This project grew out of an interest in messing up photographs.  I wanted the process of creation to continue after the picture was taken; I wanted to get away from the realm of the photograph and make something where the human hand could be seen; on a gut level, I wanted to push my pictures until they looked the way I felt.  After experimenting with various ways of doing this on physical photographs, I began drawing and adding layers of texture to my images in Photoshop.  I found myself returning again and again to two iconic images - the crown and the anatomical heart- and thinking about the words a friend had spoken: “I am the Queen of my life”.  This was I feeling I had longer for in myself.  A queen sits in the seat of her own authority, investigates the various landscapes of her pain wearing her crown, chooses to let her heartbreak in order to release what is trapped inside, and tells her worst stories even after she’s healed in order to light the way for others.  That queen became the figurehead for this project.

 By drawing on my photographs, I began to see what was behind the desire to mess them up:the feeling that the pictures I could take were not enough to tell the story I wanted to tell.  I had just been through the painful experience facing the whole truth about my upbringing and was wondering what was the point of so much pain? What was supposed to come out of it? The story I wanted to tell was not my particular story, but the larger themes of struggle, to understand, in a fundamental way, what it means to love all aspect of myself and be loved.  This project offered a way for me to investigate these questions, a way to honor and release the pain itself so that I could receive its gifts and make them visible, and a way to learn how to become the queen of my own life.  My starting point was a woman trapped in a pain that feels meaningless; my ending point was a queen.  The journey between those points was a challenge: to know myself in all my parts.  In order to depict the transformation from one to the other, I had to break it down into moments of despair, grief, release, surrender, hope and beauty.  I learned that the first part of the journey is about letting layers of the old self fall away and the second half is about healing and reconstructing a new self with a deeper understanding.  In reconstructing a new self, a great leap of faith is required-in order to transcend what happened and become more than that story, in order to believe in a beautiful thing that is trying to emerge.  I offer this project as a series of lamps to light the road.