There is this: the feeling when you step out onto the winter ice for the first time. And if it’s silent, you can hear the sound of the ice, near and far. Emboldening. Exhilarating. And, at the same time, terrifying. There were pictures in the Life of Water submissions that brought me back to my northeastern roots, the lake effect snow suddenly coming down and burying the neighborhood, ice as thin as glass, or thick enough to last for the entire season’s hockey games on the lake, frost like tendrils, like jewels, like a crown, like fur, ice encrusted branches and snow defying gravity on rooftops. It’s all there and I had to stop myself from making this show the winter wonderland show, because the life of water also involves the vast ocean, the sea beneath towering cliffs, the miraculous light on the tide pools and the way water can be opaque or translucent or both or reflect the clearing sunset storms that only the East has with its sudden rains and clouds straight out of a Thomas Cole painting.
The intensity of seeing in this group of photographs and by this group of photographers is astounding: the magic of a hummingbird drinking in mid-air, water droplets turned into magnifying glasses, deer emerging from the fog shrouded forest, anonymous women navigating the monsoon, an endless flock of birds crossing an endless flood plain, swimmers emerging, swimmers disappearing, the moment a reed or a blade of grass breaks the surface of a pond, waves crashing above and below us (where these cameras are, I’m unsure, but I’m mesmerized). It’s a magical set of images, both the gallery and the online selections. With a great many images to look at, it was extremely difficult to whittle the images down to just 75. I had to leave many pictures behind that spoke to me and called to me, but all of these water pictures, chosen or not, were wonderful to view and experience as I try to recall the last time I saw rain. Congratulations to all the artists and thank you to PhotoPlace Gallery for inviting me to jury The Life of Water exhibition. — Ann Jastrab