When Kevin Miyazaki came to visit me in Los Angeles recently, he told me about the work of San Francisco photographer, Stella Kalaw. She has a number of well crafted and interesting projects on her website, and found a voice creating, to quote Kevin, “pictures that are both intimate in subject, and yet graphic and pristinely composed”–and I mightily agree. Here’s a little about Stella, by Stella:
Nine things about Stella
She has only one good eye. The other cannot focus, injured in a childhood swordfight with her older sister.
She still shoots film and loves her hassy.
She hates to shovel snow and that is why she lives in California.
She misses drinking coffee but loves hot chocolate.
She was once caught in a brief sand storm traveling between villages in Mali.
She found out she could write after starting a blog.
She played a bit part as a nurse in a horror film back in the Philippines.
She finds it difficult to carry on a conversation and drive at the same time.
She carries a gratitude journal with her everyday.
What she doesn’t mention is that she attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and had an internship at the Irving Penn Studio in NYC. She has also been exhibited widely on the west coast and Pacific Rim. Her blog is full of wonderful portraiture and images from her travels.
As an immigrant from the Philippines, Stella uses her imagery to explore the transition from one culture to another in her project, Family Spaces.
My photographs speak about the absence of family. My roots are from Manila where I lived in one home with my parents and siblings. Our tight knit family celebrated traditions together with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins for several years. When we migrated to America over a decade ago, the meaning of home and family unknowingly began to alter and assimilation to the American life took priority. Several years had gone by until one day I felt I had lost its meaning. The Family Spaces project was born out of a longing to be close to my family and a need to grapple with a new definition of home as it relates to my life today.
The work is a visual representation of interconnected lives experienced in different regions of the world. Viewing one personal space next to the other creates the illusion that they are part of one structure, although they are interiors located in different cities. Images of personal belongings hint at my family’s presence, juxtaposing the familiarity and intimacy of the everyday with a quiet solitude and loneliness.
These are a sampling from her series, Around Emeryville.
I live very close to the San Francisco bay in Emeryville, California, a five minute drive from my residence. Periodically, dense fog envelopes the city and temporarily obscures most traces of present day life. I am repeatedly drawn to its bare terrain, the local vegetation, disappearing horizons and the minimal evidence of shorelines as a way of examining the meaning of place in terms of physical boundaries and establishing one’s roots. At the same time, the scenes portray an underlying metaphorical connection to ideas of my immediate family scattered in three continents and wrestling with feelings of belonging.
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