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A Personal Matter of Some Account

Winter Edition 2017
Michelle Saffran
Welcome Dear Readers!  Some months ago I stashed my long running blog (this link will take you there) into the cyberspace closet and announced its replacement, a quarterly newsletter.  Well here it is - the first edition. My motivation is to share my own work along with news, events and things of interest. 

New Work

This past summer I traveled to Michigan to photograph the house I grew up in before my brother, its current owner, sold it.  For various reasons the house has been uninhabited for more than four years and the lack of occupancy had taken its toll.  Even though I hadn't lived in the house since I was eighteen it was an emotional gut wrenching.  It wasn't until recently that I have even been able to look at the photos and begin to think about what they mean and how they fit within the framework of my work. 

The discovery of panoramic paper (printed with a vertical orientation 13" wide by 38" long) opened up my mind to ways of combining the photos from my childhood home with the photos I have taken in my present home. 

Conceptually my interest is in a dialog between the past and present; a conversation on how we integrate our history into our core identity and how that identity is expressed and reinforced in the present.  The construction of these collages parallel my thoughts on the construction of selfhood.  I tried sewing on the pieces but felt it was too distracting and abandoned the idea.  Above Photographs:  3 untitled works in progress, each measuring 13" x 38".  All original images taken since September.


Integrated Arts Academy

I was invited back to Burlington's Integrated Arts Academy to photograph all the students again but this time with their entire family.  (To see the first residency portraits blog July 22, 2013.) Overall I think there are almost 200 families to photograph and I have photographed 80 so far!  This project has pushed me past my usual process and comfort zone requiring the use studio lighting and working with groups of people.  Things I have little experience with.  Fortunately I have a very talented assistant/intern Eli Thurston and have had unbelievable support from Warwick Green, a mentor from my undergrad Minnesota days.  As part of the residency I will also work with the students to make their own portraits.  The portraits will be shown along side writings by the students about their family.  All the work will be shown at Burlington City Hall in May.  The residency is supported by Burlington City Arts.

Studio Place Arts

I have taken up residency at Studio Place Arts in Barre.  Executive Director Sue Higby extended the opportunity back in November and I can be found on the third floor towards the back of the building until May 1.  Being part of an active creative community is an energizing experience.  Climbing the stairs to the third floor through the galleries filled with art (that isn't my own!) is like entering a holy place - awe inspiring.  Please come visit.  I keep irregular hours so it's best to call beforehand to set up your visit 802-999-7342 or email me msaffran@gmavt.net

I will open my studio during the next art opening "Under Construction", Saturday March 18, 4 - 6:00 pm.  Stop by, see SPA's new show and my current project.


"Listening to What Wasn't Said"  ( above, 24" x 24" mounted on birch panel, 2016) will be part of the group show Cut and Paste:  Contemporary Collage at gallery Site:Brooklyn  in New York.  The photo-collage was selected by the highly respected Metropolitan Museum of Art Specialist Jared Ash.  The piece is made from a scanned snapshot of my mother and I from my twelfth birthday party, cut and sewn together with original journal pages into a quilt pattern.  It is part of a 5 quilt based collage project called Heirlooms that I showed this past summer at Axel's Gallery in Waterbury.  You can see the other works on my blog page Thursday, July 28, 2016

I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to travel to the opening.  I was deeply touched by the out pouring of support from so many friends, family and artists.  Raising $870 was my initial goal (an amount that would cover my round trip train ride to the city, 3 nights hotel and food), but it was surpassed withing a week to over $1,000.  Thank you for your help!  Those who wished me well or sent money - you made this trip possible.

Wednesday, March 1, 6 - 9:00 pm
Gallery - Site: Brooklyn
165 7th Street, Brooklyn, New York
show runs February 25 - March 19


Open Mic and Poetry Slam

Bruce and I are organizing series of music and poetry performances for the second Friday of each month February through June at Moretown Town Hall.  Partnering with the Moretown Library we hope to get our neighbors out of the house and onto the stage.  Open to everyone.  Get off the couch and bring your instrument, your voice, your passion and entertain us all!  Audience members welcome too!
First month: 7:00 - 10:00 pm  February 10Email me for details, otherwise just show up!

"Who Made Me?"

Moxie Production presents a comic and captivating story written and performed by Dennis McSorely, that illustrates the universal way our connections with people shape who we are and impact our life's path. Saturday, February 11, 7:30 pm and Sunday February 12, 2pm.  Grange Hall Cultural Center, 317 Howard Avenue, Waterbury Center.  Tickets $10 at the door.

Newsletter Editor Needed

I will be leaving my volunteer position of Across Roads newsletter editor after the March issue.  This is a great opportunity for someone to become more involved with our arts community.  No experience necessary, although comfort with the Internet and Mailchimp would get you off to a good start.  Requires about 4 hours a month and the ability to search and compile arts related activities to a mainly Central Vermont base.  Training and ongoing support provided.  For details or to express interest email moxie.productions.1@gmail.com

Rants, Raves and Faves


Patti Smith - M Train
I wouldn't say that I am a follower of Smith's music (although I deeply respect her artistry) but I am a BIG follower of her writing.  Her emotional honesty pricks my skin like the sharp point of broken glass. Through her words I feel her, I become her, sitting in the cafe across the street from her Greenwhich Village apartment drinking coffee and thinking about life.  She shares her obsession with TV detective shows and follows that up with reminiscences of conversations with William Burroughs.  I have also recently finished her book of poems Coral Sea, which was equally engaging and recommended.


The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
I haven't felt this uplifted since before election night, when we still hoped Bernie had a chance. Available on Amazon Video and probably other places, the movie is based on a book of the same name by Jonas Jonasson.  A road movie extraordinaire with a hero who is a nursing home escapee that loves to blow things up and carry with him a motto of not thinking too much but just letting things work out as they may. Proof that a life made of action and following your inner line of curiosity increases longevity!

Call to Action

As part of his narcissistic and diabolic mission to make America great again Trump has proposed budget cuts that would effectively eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. Read here Get involved - write letters, spread the word, sign petitions, inform yourself!  Even if the NEA or NEH are not your main concern act on what is!  Change.org website.  Vermont Arts Council has an action center too.


Copyright © 2017 Michelle Saffran Photography, All rights reserved.

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