Torrance York: Semaphore
Semaphore examines the shift in my perspective after having been diagnosed seven years ago with Parkinson’s disease. Through images, I consider what it means to integrate this life-altering information into my sense of self. What does acceptance look like? – Torrance York
Seven years ago, Torrance York was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In Semaphore, she focuses her camera on the challenge to integrate this life-altering information into her sense of self. Published by Kehrer Verlag, the book includes 67 images of nature, the human body, X-rays, MRI scans, details from daily life, and light, followed by a beautifully written essay by Rebecca Senf, PhD and Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
“York’s work is quiet, luminous, generous, quivering. She has been plunged into an experience some might describe as dark, or narrow, or claustrophobic. But that’s not how she characterizes it for us. Being forced to examine and accept her mortality—the literal existential challenge each one of us will face—she comes back to us with tales of profound observation, of questions and considerations, of careful slowness, and always there is light.” –Rebecca Senf
Over ten million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, a serious neurodegenerative motor disorder with symptoms that develop slowly and may include tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and difficulty with walking and balance. Treatments are limited, and there is no known cause or cure — making York’s commitment to optimism that much more inspiring.
“Making photographs of a specific sensation or concern gives it form, brings it into focus, and allows me to begin to manage it. Feelings become actionable intelligence. For example, recognizing a weakness creates the opportunity to build strength to compensate. Having that power provides me with a sense of agency. Instead of this process happening to me, I become actively engaged in shaping the trajectory,” York says.
York hopes her experience and process will connect with others – not just in the Parkinson’s community, but with anyone learning to live with a situation that requires growth, patience, and perseverance.
Torrance York received First Prize for her monograph, Semaphore, from the Lucie Foundation’s International Photography Awards, and is exhibiting work from the series at Rick Wester Fine Art, NYC, through October 15, 2022. She earned a BA from Yale and an MFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design.
York’s additional recent awards include: selection for Atlanta Photography Group’s Portfolio 2022 exhibit; Critical Mass 2021 finalist; Lenscratch 2021 Art & Science Awards, Honorable mention; 18th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, Honorable mention for series in the Open and Fine Art categories; The Photo Review International Competition 2020 Honorable mention; and semifinalist and Olcott award winner from The Print Center 95th ANNUAL International competition (2020).
Her work is held in private and public collections, including AllianceBernstein, New York, NY; John and Sue Wieland Collection at the Warehouse, Atlanta, GA; and RISD, Providence, RI. York has had solo shows at Silvermine Galleries, New Canaan, CT; New Canaan Museum & Historical Society; and Southport Gallery, Southport, CT, among others. Her work has been exhibited at Littlejohn Contemporary, New York, NY; Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image, Philadelphia, PA; Schelfhaudt Gallery, University of Bridgeport, CT; Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA; and Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY.
She was a resident artist at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, CO, and received a Connecticut Artist Fellowship grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Littlejohn Contemporary represents her landscape work, and York is a Silvermine Guild of Artists member. Since 2001 she has served on the Board of the Educational Video Center in NYC, where she formerly taught documentary video. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and their two teenagers.
Follow Torrance York on Instagram: @Torrance_York
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