To Earth, From Heaven
Photographs by Elvira Piedra
To Earth, From Heaven, entwines thirteen years of Piedra’s photographic work in three groups of images: the tree peony, studies of landscape and studies of water. The tree peony, a plant native to Western China and Tibet which the photographer has been working on since 2001, forms the first group. The second group presents contemplative views made along the Connecticut River, close to the artist’s home in the Northeast Kingdom. Lastly, the exhibit includes earlier studies of water from New Mexico. Some of the photographs have been realized as pigment ink enlargements and are being exhibited for the first time in this new form.
The title of the exhibition, To Earth, From Heaven, is a reflection on the first two hexagrams of the I Ching – Heaven, representing all possibilities, and Earth representing receptivity. The work challenges the viewer to look toward things beyond ordinary sight. Piedra’s dialogue between matter and spirit are captured with an 8 x 10 inch view camera, and presented as black and white silver gelatin prints and pigment ink enlargements.
Elvira Piedra, a native of Southern California, became attracted to black and white photography through old family portraits as a child. Her interest developed further, when she discovered the work of Eugène Atget, Man Ray, Brassaï and Robert Doisneau on a trip to Paris in her teens. After ten years of travel and study, she moved to El Rito, New Mexico to work with the photographer Walter Chappell, who encouraged her to use an 8 x 10 view camera. Piedra seeks to depict and discover the essential qualities of a subject through the camera’s lens. This desire extends to her images of water, flower studies, and landscapes. Piedra currently resides in Lunenburg, Vermont and has been exhibited and published since 2001.