Check out our newest Member Showcase! This August, we are excited to shine the spotlight on two PCNW Members (one brand new this year!) and their current photography projects.
WHITNEY GILKERSON – member since 2020
What are you working on?
I have started documenting this year through street photography, focusing particularly on the loneliness and uncertainty of present times. I just completed the Street Photography course and finished with a first book of this project. I plan to continue working on it throughout the entire year- perhaps expanding outside Seattle and further into Washington or elsewhere.
This is simply my effort to make some sense of this year. We are alone but supposedly together. Law has broken down into disorder. We are stalked by an invisible enemy that lingers in the hugs of friends and the handle of the gas pump. Hate is having a heyday. Hypocrisy isn’t going down without a fight. Racism marches bold in the streets. Weary resistance continues. Black lives matter now and always did. Doctors go to work wearing trash bags. We hold our breath, we count our breaths, we fill our lungs deeper than before, we sigh and we try not to cough. Outside the birds sing as ever, the sun shines and the rain falls as it always does in Seattle. Authority tightens its grip day by day. Sometimes it’s so quiet, sometimes too frantic.
After taking months where I went to work and home, home and work, otherwise in quarantine, waiting for the impending cough to appear, I had to get out. I had to go out and take photos again. Why not? I had already marched with a thousand other people. I had worked for months in a hospital. And here I was, still well though maybe a little bruised, a lot lonely, and more tired than I had ever been in my life. I took to the streets, walking out my anxiety, my eyes and mind occupied. All I had to do was look. I enjoyed roaming again, my eyes searching for the same anxiety, the same weariness, the same loneliness that I had been experiencing. I suppose I was looking for an odd kind of companionship. I found it everywhere I went. It was amongst my fellow human beings, more vulnerable than I had remembered- beautiful and cruel and stupid and innocent and kind and hungry and brave and sad and angry and desperate and lonesome and bored and freaking out. I also found that current of peace in the quiet, dutiful beauty of the smallest flower growing by the side of the road, unphased by traffic. It’s carried me through.
To learn more about Whitney’s photography, click here.
CHRIS VILLIERS – member since 2017
What are you working on?
I recently completed a series of 21 platinum-toned kallitypes prints from Chief Sealth’s gravesite in Suquamish, WA. The series, called “They Named Our City for Him,” explores a number of issues including:
– The historical treatment of indigenous peoples (both here in the United States and around the globe),
– The impact of past pandemics on Native Americans,
– The risks currently facing disenfranchised populations,
– Current attitudes in the age of Donald Trump,
– The sense or mortality that unites all of us, and
– Basic human emotions of love and affection
I started this project about three and a half years, and studied alternative processes at PCNW because I wanted to use a printing technique that harkens back to the period when Chief Sealth was alive.
On the Port Madison Indian Reservation, less than 15 miles across the water from Seattle, is the gravesite of the Native American chief for whom the city was named.
Still in use today, the old cemetery rests behind the white clapboard church of St. Peter Catholic Mission. Unlike many cemeteries, this one isn’t perfectly manicured. It’s a bit messy like life itself. Weeds grow. The ground is uneven. Flags mark most headstones. Family members and nearby residents leave gifts to honor both the recently passed and distant ancestors.
During the past few years, as I crossed Puget Sound to visit my father who is now well into his 90s, I’ve stopped at the graveyard at different times of day and in different seasons to photograph headstones and document gifts left behind.
In these platinum-toned kallitype prints, I have tried to respect the fact that Native Americans consider their ancestors’ graves sacred while also pointing out how, in my culture, few think twice about wandering away from the tombs of our forefathers. I have tried to reflect on the fleeting nature of our lives, especially as my father approaches his own centenary. And, most of all, I’ve tried to honestly reflect on history.
To learn more about Chris’ photography, click here.
Thank you to Whitney and Chris for sharing their work with our community! If you’re a member of PCNW and would like to share your creative endeavors, we’d love to hear from you. Complete our online form and a jury will review your work for consideration of inclusion in upcoming online showcases and satellite exhibitions. Complete by the 15th of every month to be considered for the next spotlight! Not a PCNW Member yet? You can join online today!