We are pleased to highlight the talented artists of Atelier 32. Today we focus on the creativity of Miren Etcheverry.
I started with a formal photographic portrait of my grandmother, which has hung, since it was taken in the 1920’s, at her house, now our family home, in Bayonne, France (see next).I have always liked this portrait of my grandmother (whom, incidentally, I adored), but felt that it never captured her colorful and vivacious personality. So, I decided to “add some color” to it. One of my attempts at remaking her portrait, hence “Suzanne #2”. I made quite a few versions of this portrait. Some of them, I was told were reminiscent of one of my favorite artists Gustav Klimt, which, of course, inspired me to explore this work further.
So I continued on the Klimt theme, loosely, and created “Paulette”. She is my mother, now 93. This image is based on a snapshot I took of her about 10 years ago.
“Oh My Goddess” is a celebration of the women in my family. It is about honoring these women, most of whom are living full and active lives in southern France. (I wonder… is the secret to longevity in southern France the Madiran wine or the foie gras, or both…?)
Among these beautiful women are my nonagenarian mother, her peers, and other members of my extended family. A few of them have now passed, but their memories live on.
“Yvette”, which is a portrait of my 80-year old cousin, this one based on a photo I took of her recently.
“Suzanne #1” is one of my favorites. It is also of my grandmother, based on a snapshot of her when she was in her 60’s, where she was sitting at a dining room table. What I love about this one is that it totally captures her personality, the twinkle in her eye, and her mischievous spirit. This time, I decided to “channel” Frieda Kahlo, another one of my favorite artists.
During the recent period of the pandemic and its associated restrictions, the distance between me and my family of origin has never seemed so great. Knowing that I am no longer just a simple airplane flight away from visiting them saddens me.
These playful depictions of the women reflect happy moments spent with them, while I am here and they are far away. During my period of confinement, I revisited my family photographs and transformed these ordinary women, giving them a breath of new life, and capturing their lively spirits and dynamism. I mean to convey what is most beautiful about them, perhaps enhancing that beauty, even transforming them into goddesses.
These portraits are a pleasure for me to work on. Working on them allows to “spend time” with my family members, at lease figuratively. Some, like my beloved grandmother, have been gone for some time. Others, like my mother and Yvette, are far away. While France did not feel that far away prior to the pandemic, the complications of traveling during the pandemic has imposed a great distance between my family in France and me. Creating these portraits had brought them closer to me.
Meg and my Atelier group were a huge inspiration for my pursuing this project. For one, they responded very positively to the portraits, and to my verbal descriptions of these women. I had also created portraits of anonymous people, but Meg and the group members made it clear to me that it was my connection with these women that made it work. So I continued to focus on women in my family. One of my favorite assignments during the Atelier workshop is the conversation with an artist. I conversed with Gustav Klimt for that assignment, which led me to the “Paulette” and “Yvette” portraits.
Even the “goddess” concept came from a member of the group.
Indeed, these women are my goddesses. I come from a long line of strong women, who are my role models and source of my own strength and feminist spirit.
There are a lot of women in my family and extended family of friends that provide with much more material to work with, and I look forward to continuing with this series. I am honored that since have shared these portraits, many people have responded by asking me to do portraits of their mothers and other women in their lives.
About Miren Etcheverry –
Miren Etcheverry is an award-winning photographer whose work has been exhibited internationally.
Based in Cambridge and Provincetown, MA, she spent her early childhood in Paris and in the Basque Country. Her passion for photography began early, as she traveled extensively throughout her youth and continued to travel throughout her career in international finance.
Her photographs have been selected for juried exhibitions at Danforth Art (Framingham, MA), in galleries, including Menier Gallery (London, UK), Darkroom Gallery (Vermont), Kiernan Gallery (Virginia), and at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Cape Cod Art Center, Cambridge Art Association and Bedford Public Library.
Miren’s photographs received various Honorable Mentions in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 International Photography Awards (IPA) , ArtAscent’s “Blue” competitions. Her work has appeared in publications and blogs, including the Cape Cod Times, Art Ascent and About Basque Country.
Miren studied photography at New England School of Photography, Maine Media Workshops and Griffin Museum of Photography, and with Alison Shaw and National Geographic photographer Michael Melford. She had her first formal training in photography while a student at Stanford University, where she worked in video production at the pioneering Stanford Instructional Television Network. She has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from M.I.T.