In Gloria McDarrah's book, The Photography Encyclodedia, "Art photography: photography that is done as a fine art--that is, done to express the artist's perceptions and emotions and to share them with others."
With a few minutes to spare before getting home to make dinner, I ducked into a local gallery to see the exhibition. It didn’t take long in the small, white walled gallery to see the well framed and intriguing photographs displayed around the room. I stood in the middle of the space and with one swoop tried to take them all in. As I turned to head for the door, my momentum halted, grabbed by an image with a setting of snow and birch trees. In this photo a slender, black haired woman in a red mandarin dress stood in sharp contrast to the white winter scene.
I walked closer. Her perfectly postured back faced the camera. One leg was in a position suggesting impending movement. I was beguiled. For one, I love the color red. Secondly, I love that cut of dress. And thirdly, I wanted to know where the woman was going. Who was she? Why be out in the snow without a jacket?
Forgetting about making dinner, I looked at all the other photographs and read the small brochure on the table. Her name is Ni Rong. Her photographs are self-portraits. I wanted to meet this photographer.
Overtime, I came to know Ni. During a charming and delicious Chinese lunch on her stone patio overlooking Rockport, Maine harbor, she shared her portfolio with me and told me of her search for identity through her photography. The three photographs shown here hang on my wall. I believe they tell a story. I treasure these images that serve as a daily reminder that many of us are doing just that—searching for our identity through our creativity. And I treasure the friendship that came out of that serendipitous gallery visit several years ago.
Below are Ni's comments in response to my question "Why create?"
“It’s fair to say that my photography started with a project about finding my identity. I did
not pick the project, the project picked me. I came to the US in 1985. By being away from China,
it was the first time that I became consciously aware of my Chinese identity, because back home
everyone was Chinese.
When I went back to China for the first time ten years later, it was a different story. The joy of
homecoming brought tears to my eyes as the plane touched down, but soon everything became a
culture shock. I was lost in my own country, my own city, and my own culture. The feeling of being lost in my own home was like a cloud that never left. Over the years, it has grown bigger and heavier. “Lost and searching for a home” has become THE project.
So, it got started in the summer of 2012; like a waterfall, I could not stop shooting. When I started the project it was about cultural identity; but it has gone much further beyond that. Not only has it made me become more conscious of my cultural heritage, it has also awakened me to the power of nature. I have become more connected to the land, the sea, the community that I call home now. Unexpectedly, I also learned more about myself, about my weaknesses and strengths; and my weakness have become my strengths.
Why create? Through photography, I have experienced the spiritual power of nature more than ever before. Also through photography, I have found a window through which I can connect and search inside. For me, the impulse to create is so strong; it is like a seed that has grown inside of me. It cannot be ignored or pushed aside any longer. Through this creative process, I have grown as a person as well as an artist." Ni Rong
To see more of Ni's work, please visit her website www.nirongphotography.com