Every once in a while, a small gem of a book appears on the landscape; that is at once both humble and profound. Deborah Dewit Marchant's Traveling Light: Chasing an Illuminated Life is just such a gem.
A small book - but only as measured by its physical size - it contains some of the most beautifully tranquil and ethereal imagery I have seen in a long while; the meditative contemplation of which is nourished by a generous sampling of lovingly poetic musings on the artist's life of yearning and searching for sources of illumination, from both outward sources and those inwardly directed.
One of the purest forms of "fine-art" photography - with an emphasis very much on art - appears when "mere images" are used by the artist to convey both personal realities and universal truths. This can only happen when the artist has so mastered the symbolic language of his/her own creation, that the distinction between inner and outer worlds either blurs, or disappears altogether. Images become both figure and ground, are both context for deeper meaning and meaning giving rise to deeper contexts, and simultaneously represent objective "reality" and the most mysterious, deeply subjective, inner experiences. The highest form of "fine-art photography not only pleases us aesthetically (and, maybe, intellectually), but also teaches us something timeless about ourselves. It is a mystery how an image captured by one person can teach some other person something about him/her self; but when it happens it is often magical, and points to hidden realms of shared experiences and realities.
By this measure of "fine-art" photography, at least, Marchant's art, as witnessed by the work appearing in her beautiful first book, is masterful indeed! I suspect that many will want to keep this volume by their bedside, if only to be gently reminded at the end of a stressful day that there is great joy and grace in the world, and that more of us would be able to see it, if only we could train our eyes, our hearts and souls to recognize it. Marchant has gone out and captured it for us, and I, for one, wish to thank her for sharing her experience.
Anyone who is not moved - at some level - by this stunning book of "illuminated poetry" cannot possibly be alive ;-) ... for such is its spiritual reach. If Alfred Steiglitz were alive today, I am sure he'd proclaim, "Yes, yes, THIS is why photography is art!"
You can see some of Marchant's photographs (as well as pastel drawings and oil paintings) on her website.