This month we are pleased to welcome our guest Sunny Selby Johnston. Sunny is a photographer and conceptual artist living in Eugene, Oregon. Through film, mixed media, digital and augmented image, she explores themes of memory, the body, identity, and power. Her work has appeared in noteworthy periodicals like The Sun Magazine and Black Elephant Literary Magazine as well as being exhibited at The Lightbox Gallery and the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her rotating portfolio can be found at https://vsco.co/sunnyselby.
When I consider grief, it is natural for me to gravitate to its darkest elements: the confusion, the chaos of denial, and the silence in loss. These elements of grief are the driving force in the imagery I distill into photographs. Still, I would be a hypocrite to my nature if I did not admit to hope — that one fleeting touch of light that brings me from the shadow of doubt, denial, loss, confusion, and chaos into a realm entirely outside of my own making. A place of infinite opportunity and growth. The shadow of a boy solemnly holding a box becomes a child turning toward the light.
Even as Rumi whispers to me; “Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror up to where you’re bravely working,” I see shared secrets in hushed silence become the giggling laughter only children playing in sheets in the sun have to offer.
Sometimes the image comes to me in a story, like Abraham who walked so willingly into the arms of grief when asked to sacrifice his only son and was spared the loss, echoing a father knowing he will have to let go of his son but unlike his own father, he will never abandon.
As I have been propelled in the refrain of grief, I find I linger longer and longer in hope, feeling the growth that comes with embracing hope alongside the pain, and the images begin to reflect something that looks less like grief and more like a hidden joy.
A dance with the darkness of grief and the light of its reprieve.
Do you want to Be Our Guest? Leave us a comment below with a link to your blog, Instagram account, or other place you post your images. You can also add a hashtag to your IG images: #viewfindersio_beourguest.
See you soon.