Amy Kanka Valadarsky: Misthaven
As photographers, we often discover influences from our childhood and lives that rise to the surface and shape our work in some way. Photographer Amy Kanka Valadarsky brings a lifetime of rich influences to her photographs: growing up in Eastern Europe and Israel, motherhood, years of traveling the globe, and a childhood spent reading and using her imagination. The result is a visual language that is moody and mysterious and a little bit otherworldly. Amy’s project, Misthaven, is a nod to her childhood pursuits of long days spent behind the covers of a favorite book, but with all the nuances of a grown-up novel.
Amy was born in Communist Romania and raised in Israel. After graduating as a software engineer, she worked in the Telecommunication industry and spent the next 25 plus years traveling around the globe designing software solutions to meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. In 2014, after leaving the hi-tech world, Amy returned to her creative roots and began a career as a fine art photographer.
Amy’s work has been featured in various magazines such as F-Stop and Lens Magazine as well as shown in exhibitions such as PhotoLa 2016, Los Angeles Center for Photography 2nd annual exhibition and “The Perfect Exposure” Gallery Aesthetics 2015 annual exhibit. She lives and works in Santa Monica, California.
Many years ago, when I still had two long braids tied with huge white bows, I fell in love with stories. Especially the stories which transported me to magical places where wild swans turned into princes, dark forests hid marble castles, and ancient columns were spotted by moonlight floating above the waves of stormy seas.
These stories continued to be my companions long past the young adult age. In fact, they are still some of my favorite reads. It is with hindsight that I realize how much these stories balanced and added color to an otherwise strict and regimented childhood.
With this project, Misthaven, named after the enchanted forest in the TV series “Once upon a time,” I change my role from reader to writer. Rather than being an observer in worlds created by others, I dare write my own story with lenses and light.
My Misthaven is that magical place where, as an adult, I am free to use my imagination to reveal the dark and the light of growing up, the struggle of being an artist, and experiencing the world on my own terms. There is still magic, but this time, I am the magician.
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