Stronger Spiral Divination

This spiral, which recalls fractal images, is more dense than our original idea. It takes us all the way back to our first grandmothers.

Re-stating Divinations

Adjusting these images so figurative components are touching better expresses the idea of the individual merging into a great cosmic configuration.


Accessorizing with Guns

Should Lady Gaga be wearing a rape-aXe as well?

Women have been slowly appropriating male attire, jobs and traditional activities (from voting to the military). Can we please appropriate with a bit more discrimination?

Re: WSJ article, The Girl with the Gun: What do Women Want on TV? Producers Say: Blood and Action...is this the best way to empower our little girls, strapping on a phallus over your nurturing organs ... since when is vagina dentata not good enough?


How we work

Chicago to Milwaukee - 99 miles

Nourishment while on the road

We shoot together or separately, depending on the project. We share the role of model and photographer in some projects.

We research, argue and compromise as we develop and edit a body of work. We consider our work a conversation that is part of the communal storytelling process; the fluid and mutable development of a mythology. On a practical level, working with a partner provides critique, a willing model, a road trip companion, an assistant, an editor.

Bridging the distance between two cities, we meet halfway on the state line, spend long hours talking on the phone, emailing, blogging in our Notebooks or we retreat for days into the studio.

Space to think at Ragdale Foundation residencies

Practice poses, understanding anatomy

Notes, lists, inspiration, images, file folders, proof prints


Dialogues with Michelangelo - the Sibyls

“The sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice....”

Heraclitus, 5th century BCE

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Libyan Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Delphic Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Erythrian Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

In ancient Greece, the Sibyls channeled the prophetic wisdom of the gods. They would usually descend into a cave or someplace where fetid air was conducive to trances and hallucinations. Channeling of the sort was witnessed by Aeneas.

The sibyls depicted in the Sistine Chapel are the first five from a list of ten given in the Divine Institutions of Lactantius (ca. 303-311 a.d.)

Dialogues with Michelangelo - questioning authority

Dialogues with Michelangelo (God) from All Things Are Always Changing

Michelangelo has been the authority for the rendering of the human figure for over five hundered years. He had a specific agenda for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Michelangelo worked with papal advisor Egidio da Viterbo on the ceiling's imagery. da Viterbo's was charged with the justification of the political agenda of Pope Julius II--the creation of a golden age of worldwide Christendom prophesied by Cumean Sibyl. Biblical and ancient Greek imagery would speak with much more authority than contemporary prophets like Savanarola.

from Ross King, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Cumean Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Inspired and dismayed by these depictions, we engaged the Sistine Chapel ceiling's Sibyls and Prophets in conversation. These inflated forms of robes with tomes have a visual authority, but we challenge their pomposity. We our own agenda was to find the wisdom and divinity in the body. Our images ask what authority and power are conjured by these gestures and poses in the 21st century?

Dialogues with Michelangelo ( 3 Ignudi) from All Things Are Always Changing

Portraits - McGuane Park Swim Team

see post McGuane Park Masters Swim Team, March 2009

In an effort to expand the diversity of our portraits, we enlisted the help of the McGuane Park Master Swimmers, competitive athletes between the ages of 65 and 85.

Portraits - Roman busts

Portrait from All Things Are Always Changing

While Greek sculpture presented the ideal, divinity and perfection; it did not reproduce particular details rather they strove to present an "eternal identity". Romans were concerned with depicting the individual. Their work emerged from veneration of their own ancestors, not veneration of their gods.

The magnificence of Roman portraiture commemorated ancestors, lineage, authority, prowess. We began to photographed older women not simply because of their accomplishments, but to venerate them for having endured, for their wisdom and for their beauty.

Some notes on the evolution of Roman Portraits from Ludwig Goldscheider:

The Etruscans were the first in the Mediterrean to depict natural likeness on their sarcophagus figures. Later, 'every aristocratic or well-to-do middle-class Roman house had in its drawing room, the atrium, al collection of family statues, likenesses of ancestors, cast in wax, death masks. These masks were brought out for special celebrations and worn in funeral processions in order to "resurrect" the loved one so many generations of the family could be represented'. "At the funeral of Julius Caesar there was a pivot, with the face and body showing the three-and-twenty stabs."

To preserve these wax masks, bronze or terra cotta casts were made. The features of the individual were specific, the bodies were generic. Because these masks were not animated living face, techniques were developed to accommodate the principles of an illusionistic style. The use of white marble, skin and hair textural treatment with the use of a drill to intensify highlight and shadow detail, drilling out pupils and emphasis on the eyes as an expressive element.

Portraits began to be made in one's lifetime and used as gifts to friends. Ultimately "the right to the public exhibition of a statue was purchasable in Rome", and no site was thought unworthy of this mark of civic appreciation. Likenesses of prominent citizens as well as gladiators, courtesans, and minions stood in temples among the images of the gods. Though few remain, painted portraits were common and exhibited in public spaces.

By the first through the forth century A.D., imperial likenesses and medallions were multiplied and sent to the the provinces as a way to advertise and consolidate power.

Portrait from All Things Are Always Changing

Encouraged by Virginia Woolf - Our Ode to Midlife

Meditations on Venus from All Things Are Always Changing

Mrs. Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf in 1925, suggested some of our own experience in the world. Midlife brings a new consciousness of simultaneous past and future.

She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything, at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very , very dangerous to live even one day.

We shared Clarissa's feelings about the way the world looked at a middle-aged matron:

That she held herself well was true; and had nice hands and feet; and dressed well, considering that she spent little. But often now this body she wore...this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing--nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more sense of having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.
Meditation (Metamorphosis)

Our outburst in 2003 was not so genteel:

thinning hair

the bush is bare

now the heart is bleedy

the body; needy.

What does it take to be saved?

still quivering sex

begins to mascerate




What does it take to be saved?

numberless trifling matters

breeding extraordinary matters too numberless for keeping score.

Pelvic floor? out the door.

No more sloffing of the womb,

changed alignments of the moon

on the wane

different stain.

Night’s hot waves flaccid,

rolling over

dimpled stone

thinning bone

What does it take to be saved?

very cold, very strange

sliding down the slippery slope

no hope

for repair.


what makes this fair?

shed a breast

lose a womb

amble toward the tomb

is this what it is to be saved?

Portraits - like marble

Portraits from All Things Are Always Changing

In 2005 we had a job making a professional portrait of a good friend who had encouraged us over the last 20 years. We photographed her in natural light, her skin was like marble.

After considering the changes written on our bodies in Vessels, this image of our marble-skinned mentor inspired us to think about the experiences etched into our minds; our memories and our judgement. Society may dismiss the aging body, but we are reminded by our mothers, aunts and teachers that wisdom grows beneath the wrinkles.

We began to photograph the changing and complimentary relationship between body and mind over time, Iris Murdoch suggested our approach "...one surrenders power in one form, and grasps it in another."

We took more portraits of older women friends, to honor their accomplishments, to venerate them for having endured and to make manifest the beauty of their wisdom.

Portraits from All Things Are Always Changing

Meditations on Venus - Update

Venus is a representation of social values and an ideal which transcends reality. Venus fulfills a need. Consider our little girls and our social values....plastic! it's fantastic!


Vessels - Separation and Perfection

Vessels from All Things Are Always Changing

Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony discusses control of the nude in terms of separation:

"As the Greeks see it, elegance arises from excavation, from the cavity.....The epidermis of the Greek statue is so sharply separated from all that surrounds it because it is carved out of the air, whereas Mesopotamian or Egyptian statues seem to have grown up from the ground."

This complimented our idea of evoking Greek sculpture in order to separate the body from any recognizable context and emphasize it's metaphorical function of "vessel."

Lynda Nead states this Greek approach another way:

"The female nude can almost be seen as a metaphor for these processes of separation and ordering, for the formation of self and the spaces of the other. If the female body is defined as lacking containment and issuing filth and pollution from it's faltering outlines and broken surfaces, then the classical forms of art perform a kind of magical regulation of the female body, containing it and momentarily repairing the orifices and tears. This can, however, only be a fleeting success; the margins are dangerous and will need to be subjected to the discipline of art again...and again.

Our Vessels have been contained, but their disproportion challenges.


Meditations on Venus-and her peers

It is thought that Venus was born 31,000 – 40,000 years ago at the beginning of the Aurignacian era. What were they thinking then? Was the depiction of oversized breast, exentuated buttocks and genetalia a deliberate exaggeration of the sexual features? Are these proportions unrealistic or wishful thinking? Do these figures resemble your grandmother or pornography?

Catalhoyuk Goddess

Cucuteni Venus, Drăguşeni, 4050-3900 B.C

Cycladic Venus, 2800 to 2300 B.C.

Venus Dolni Vestonice Gravettian Czech

Malta Venus

Venus from Mesopotamia late 5th c. B.C.E.

Venus of Hohle Fels,.ca. 36,000 years B.P E.

Venus of Willendorf

Divinations - Cosmic/Comic Systems

Divinations - All Things Are Always Changing

"I see the past, present and future existing all at once"

--William Blake

Theorize on the beginnings of abstract thought....

When the brain enters the symbolic work of a notational system, it has broken off the thing from the thing notated. Then the symbol can have a life independent from the phenomena it represents: an eclipse can be calculated without the eclipse moment, the full moon predicted years before the event. (p. 187)

from Sacred Numbers and the Origins of Civilization by Richard Heath

Pythagoras, ca. 570 to ca. 490 B.C.E.

R. Buckminister Fuller, 2004

It seems the British, perhaps intoxicated by the energy emanating from their sacred stone monuments, are great proponents of numerical systems to that refer to qualitive and archetype life forces. The usual suspects appear: John Bennett/Laws of Synchronicity, Psychologist C. G. Jung, Pythagoras, M. C. Escher, Buckminister Fuller, base twelve number series and of course, Glastonbury and so many more. These systems of the laws of the universe operate out of time; events come together in a meaningful way that has no causal explanation; coincidence; synchronicity.

For Example [referring to Robert K. G. Temple, Oracles of the Dead, Rochester, Vt Destiny Books, 2005] "In his investigations of oracular connections to hexagon shape and other derivitives of root three, Robert Temple has found the hexagon in most surfaces, especially those in which there are energy transformations such as melting or freezing. The skin of the body is a set of flattened hexagon shapes, and cells in general use six-fold tubes as intercellular valves through their membranes. Earth's atmosphere often forms hexagonal convection cells, which are echoes of those created on the solar surface. (p. 141)

from Sacred Numbers and the Origins of Civilization by Richard Heath

While these quests are entertaining and provocative, we do not care to explain or control. Our work is about reflection, resonance and channeling the energy.

Divinations - The Desire

"But the runes that I rehearse understand the universe"

--Emerson, Poems. Woodnotes

Divinations from All Things Are Always Changing

13th century text based on Greek observations

Fibonacci Sequence

What we present in our configurations of Divinations section is the compelling human desire for Holy Revelation. Humans carry a metaphysical desire to understand ultimate power...the holy word. Sacred images don't just refer to, they ARE what they stand for.

Divinations from All Things Are Always Changing

Astronomy and sacred number symbols were developed from man's constant star gazing and recording of astronomical phenomena. Celestial knowledge was knowledge of a power beyond the self. The star symbol is found on more relics and in more ancient sites than any other design, followed by spirals and chevrons.

Divinations from All Things Are Always Changing

Runic glyphs or runes are used for divination and spelling out a magical language of sacred truth. In this context, runes are symbols of magical energy. The word is thought to have evolved from the german RAUNEN, "to cut or carve." Raunen may also have meant "to whisper secrets," rune is the noun for secret.

Divinations - Rune Research

Scattered torsos resembled a sacred alphabet

from Divinations, All Things Are Always Changing

The Divinations section evolved after a substantial amount of shooting had been done. A number of figures were not vessels, more like lumps of flesh in primative configurations. Scattered about on the studio floor, they bore resemblance to runes. Sounded good....but what exactly ARE runes?

Rune Research is wide ranging on the internet, from new age, goddess worship, archaeological scholarship, linguistics and art history. It dragged us back to a favorite topic mythology, how it works through time and civilizations. The information fluttered about and connections were made.

The accepted ancient rune alphabet is the Elder Futhark, based on Germanica/Norse dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries A.D. Practitioners modifyied letters of Greek or Roman alphabet in order to faciltate cutting them on wood or stone or flesh.

There is speculation that Cro-Magnon man developed a sacred writing system 20,000 years ago. Most captivating is the idea of an "alphabet of the metaphysical" introduced by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas in The Civilization of the Goddess: the World of Old Europe. She posits sacred scripts of rune signs in use from 17,000 B.C. by a "mother civilization."


Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: the World of Old Europe

Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess

P. M. H. Atwater, Goddess Runes

Richard Heath, Sacred Numbers and the Origins of Civilization

Cyrus Herzl Gordon, Before Columbus

Barry Fell, America BC

The next step was to begin to transcription.

initial Divinations images