Let's start with the obvious. At some point in her artistic development, Deborah put down the camera and began devoting herself full-time to her pastels and paintings. In the Presence of Books is her first published collection of the latter, but before that came Traveling Light, the little gem of a book acting as part autobiographical sketch, part visual memoir, part retrospective collection of photography.
I once got to compose a magazine ad for this amazing book. It's an experience everyone should have—capture the essence of something you love, fit it on a magazine page. Here's the pairing of image and text I chose to convey what this book is:
Doors and windows were no longer just members of an image. They filled up the frame. My lens thrust up against their surfaces to examine their portent and then expose the phenomenon. Staircases brimming with choices, ascendance and descendance, promises and direction, were—with their arrangement of repeating surfaces—the definition of the vibration between light and darkness. Rooms with brilliant flash-bulb windows illuminated shadowy interiors. The excitement I felt rivaled that which filled me when I traveled rivaled that which filled me when I traveled out to meet the horizon when I was younger.The observed and the observer are the subject of this book, and the question of where one begins and the other begins is as old as philosophy itself. Before we had the word for window, was there already a concept for Window in our minds? Is every doorway the physical expression of ideas we call Leaving and Entering? And over everything, what is Light? Is it the means by which we see, or is it in fact all that we see? Does it exist without or within? Both?
But there's no need to get too caught up in all that--it's really enough to say this is a book for the soul.
We're quite certain about the pleasures of this book around here, so we were doubly pleased to see William T. Hamilton's review in the September/October edition of The Bloomsbury Review. It's not available online, but here's a snippet:
Traveling Light is a special kind of artistic memoir, familiar enough in its reflection of youthful obsession with self and solitude and a growing desire to connect with a human community, but unusual in the subordination of text to image.You can read more about Traveling Light: Chasing and Illuminated Life and order it here.
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This is a very fine book. I suspect that few people who pick it up will be staisfied with just three trips through it.