Artistic expression as a wonder drug

Sometimes we find what we love early in life. But some of us, older baby boomers or not, don’t find it til later. That’s what happened to Holly Gordon of Long Island, New York. It took a sad crossroads in her life, but she found her wonder drug.

In the beginning I took the safe route and did what was expected: college, become an art teacher, get married, have a family. The safe route crumbled twenty years ago though when my husband died suddenly at an early age.

Holly Gordon

I was in emotional turmoil, but recognized that it would take time to sort things out. And while that was happening, I was going to cast my fate to the wind and take risks rather than any predictable path.

I remembered a game I played with myself in elementary school— spinning the globe with eyes closed and putting my finger on a spot to see where it landed. I began traveling to remote regions. Turning the globe upside down, even Antarctica was spread out before me. I wanted to experience it all.

Holly petting a grey whale in Mag Bay in Baja.

My camera is an integral part of me. It is an extension of my mind, my heart, my eye, a part of my past, present, and future. It is the synthesis of my love affair with life. It became my life preserver to stay afloat and positive during this turbulent time. I neither wanted nor needed affirmation. For the first time in my life I was doing this for me.

Along the way I became a Kodak “professional partner,” my photography filled a Galapagos Conservancy Annual Report, my butterfly note cards were sold at the American Museum of Natural History, my bodies of Antarctica and Galapagos photography were acquired by Molloy College.

Holly at Brown Bluff on the Antarctic Peninsula.

My photography spoke for protecting our environment because Mother Nature has no voice. It shared and inspired.

In 2014, social media led to a connection that would grow into a book, “Parallel Perspectives: The Brush/ Lens Collaboration.” It’s a visual memoir that combines life, loss, serendipity, and art. To me, it proves that creative energy is a boundless force.

And it led me to solidify a creative process that was brewing and stewing intermittently for fifteen years. I call it Photo-Liminalism. The invention of photography gave rise to Impressionism when it rocked the conventional world of painting in the 1860s. Liminal describes a transitional period where the order of acceptability is in flux and a new order of acceptance has not yet been established.

Holly on Easter Island.

Today technology is revolutionizing photography as we know it, and my work is part of the change. I aim to humanize technology and show that contrary to auto-button pushing so prevalent on social media today, technology can be as sensitive and malleable a tool as a pencil or a paintbrush.

I’ve always been hyper about being and doing and making a difference. Art is one way to do that. It is a wonder drug. It needs no prescription, can’t be overdosed, and I heartily recommend it to everyone.

5 Comments

  1. Holly Gordon,
    What an inspiring essay how you found a new center late on in life! Photo-Liminalism — so interesting!

  2. Before traumatic things happen to us, it is hard to know how we will respond as it rocks our foundation/equilibrium; and fortunately most of us don’t have a history of traumatic events that rock our existence to bank on. I heard this statement a long time ago: “Most people go through life as if it is a trial run for the real thing” and it must have lodged itself in my innermost thoughts. Life is too precious to squander…even during the pandemic. Negativity saps our energy and there is a difference between being solitary and being lonely. Time is a gift for discovery.

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