Divine Reflection, from Evie Lou and Laura Jane (2012-2016).

February 27th, 2020.  Interview with Hamidah Glasgow for Strange Fire Collective.  Her questions were extremely thoughtful and challenging, creating a compelling dialogue between artist and curator. 

HG: I'd like to talk a bit about your portrayal of Evie Lou and Laura Jane's rejection of traditional standards of beauty and their place in the wildness of the land. In our culture, these are both delicate matters as adherence to beauty standards go deep and permeates our lives. Men that disavow male standards of beauty are generally seen as rugged and individualist. Women who do the same are typically regarded as "letting themselves go" or other derogatory terms. How did you approach these issues, and what did you think about while making the images of them? 

NM: Evie Lou and Laura Jane are storytellers that source their spirituality from the natural world. Evie (my mother) is a trained survivalist, meaning she practices primitive skills such as animal tracking, fire building, and sustainability. She spends much of her spare time volunteering for a local wildlife center. Laura Jane's grandmother descends from the Blackfoot Native American tribe, and she worked for many years as a hospice nurse. They both share the neo-pagan belief that women go through three life stages--the stages of maiden, mother, and crone. The word crone has been used throughout most of history in a derogatory way to describe an old woman or a witch. However, they fully embrace the term—Laura has a tattoo of triple moons on her forearm that symbolizes this idea.

I was first drawn to photograph them because I spent many hours with them, listening to their stories, in awe of their carefree nature and charisma. After we'd chat for an hour or so, I would ask them to re-create a moment from one of their stories, or simply walk around and photograph the land that Laura lives on in Myakka City, Florida. After many of our conversations, I began to transcribe our conversations as a source for picture-making. I also wanted to bring their voices into the project. One of our most intense conversations was about the death of mothers. They both agreed that you don't fully come into yourself as a woman until your mother dies. This was a shocking and honest revelation since my mother is such a dominant force in my life. 

During one of our conversations, Laura Jane said she saw her divine reflection in my mother (Evie Lou), so I looked for a mirror around the property to create an image of Laura with my mother's reflection in it. This became the image titled Divine Reflection. I photographed them participating in rituals, healing ceremonies, and created portraits of them in the landscape. As a photographer and feminist, I found their story to be refreshing and unique. So many women spend their lives attempting to retain an impossible youthfulness, and they have found a source of power and strength in their years. 

Read the full interview here:  http://www.strangefirecollective.com/2020-features#/qa-noelle-mccleaf/

 June 5th - July 31st, 2019Diffusion, curated by Lori Vrba and Blue Mitchell opened at the SE Center for Photography. Images in the exhibition are curated from the pages of Diffusion IX. The exhibition opens Friday, July 5 and runs through August with the opening reception on Friday, August 2. See the full show online here https://www.sec4p.com/diffusion-ss/. Much of the work from the exhibition is also up for sale on Artsy, including my image Mary of the Sea, from the series Familial Totems. The image is made from a daguerrotype and tarpon scales, composed on a flatbed scanner. Collectors can purchase work from the exhibition here: https://www.artsy.net/se-center.

June 5th-July 1st, 2019. Rock Bass was shown in Ft. Collins, Colorado at the Downton Artery in conjunction with Center for Fine Art Photography. Life of Water was juried by Jennifer Shaw. The photograph was selected for the Director's Award from Hamidah Glasgow. About the image: Rock Bass represents my mother’s inherent love for fishing, something that was passed down to her from her mother, who taught her how to catch, clean, and cook—a strenuous but rewarding ritual. Most of my work is shot on medium format color film, as I enjoy the rich natural tones, the film grain, and the sharpness of the image. 

Rock Bass, Archival Pigmented Print (32x40), 2018. 

Rock Bass on view at the Downtown Artery, Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2019. 

November 16th, 2018-May 17th, 2019. DocuFlorida II: Projections and Prints with featured artist, Noelle McCleaf included an open call with digital submissions projected with photographs by Florida-based photographer, Noelle McCleaf. The exhibition addressed the environment in rural and urban landscapes, and may offer an interpretive lens focused on socio-cultural and socio-spatial conditions of natural and built environments of our larger Southeastern U.S. region, an area deeply informed by river systems, gulf waters, and their associated industries and economic enterprises. DocuFlorida began in 2017 as an annual exhibition of projected photographic images focused on the current environment and landscapes of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Southeast Region of the U.S. It is intended as a site-specific iteration of Documerica, the photographic documentary project that was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s. The exhibition was on view at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum from November 16, 2018 through May 17, 2019 and is in partnership with Pensacola Museum of Art, University of West Florida. The exhibition is co-curated by: Lowell Bassett (Chief Curator, UWF Historic Trust), Felicia E. Gail, (Curator of Exhibitions, Pensacola Museum of Art) and Valerie George, (Professor of Art, UWF Department of Art).

S.S. Minnow, Archival Pigmented Print (30x40), 2017. On view at DocuFlorida II: Projections and Prints. T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum. 

Laurel, Florida, Archival Pigmented Print (30x40), 2016. On view at DocuFlorida II: Projections and Prints. T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum. 

October 12th-December 14th, 2018. Kindred: Recent Photographs by Noelle McCleaf was exhibited at the Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida in 2018. The exhibition was curated by Mark Ormond and included sixteen large-scale archival pigmented prints from A Bee in Her Bonnet and Evie Lou and Laura Jane, spanning over ten years of photographic work. A signed and editioned risograph zine was offered to the first one-hundred guests, featuring intimate interviews with Evie Lou and Laura Jane. The panel discussion included Felicia E. Gail, Writer, Artist and Curator, Thomas Carabasi, Chair of Photography and Imaging at the Ringling College of Art and Design, and Zoe Ann Nicholson, Feminist Activist, Speaker, and Author, known for her role in the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Noelle McCleaf speaking about her work in Kindred: Recent Photographs by Noelle McCleaf. 

Felicia E. Gail, Writer, Artist and Curator. https://www.feliciaegail.us/

Zoe Ann Nicholson, Feminist Activist, Speaker and Author. https://www.onlinewithzoe.com/

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