Viewing the natural world and its tiny universes can lead to galactic ideas and visions. L. Aviva Diamond captures light and movement in visions that seem galactic in scale, yet look at small surroundings. Her connection to the landscape crafts celestial visions. Her image Light Stream N.2 is featured in our Corona online exhibition. We wanted to know more about this image and her work, so we asked her a few questions.
How does light play in your work?
My recent work is all about light and about the ambiguous primordial territory where light becomes water becomes air. Or where water becomes air becomes light. I love the blurring of boundaries between earth and sky, wave and galaxy, individual and universal, creation and destruction. One of the things that makes me really happy is when people look at pieces from this series and see aspects of their own belief systems and personal mythologies mixed in with the elemental energies…and when they see and feel something different each time they look.
Your artist statement says your work “encompasses both the outer world of street photography and nature photography and inner perceptions of a cosmos consisting of energy, light and movement”. Your Light Stream image embodies that narrative. How did the series come about?
I’ve been working on the Light Stream and Wave Nebulae series for about five years, but these pieces are all informed by 35 years of meditative practice. I was sitting on the sand in Newport Beach one afternoon meditating and gazing at the ocean when I suddenly saw stars and nebulae in the glints of light on crashing waves. Not long after that, I was at a retreat in Oregon and had similar experiences with the rushing streams there. It was as though the entire universe was encompassed in the play of light, water and air. So I began going deeper, shooting more, and developing ways to work with the images – painting with light and shadow in Photoshop to make the visual experience as close as possible to what I felt in my heart.
This process led me to a different way of seeing and a visual quest for the sacred in everyday life. I discovered that if I looked deeply enough, really delving beneath the surface, I started seeing the universe in almost everything – in a wave, bubbles in a stream, corrosion on a car hood, the broken arm of a cactus, my clogged kitchen sink. The vastness of the universe is contained in each of its parts; universal becomes cellular and vice-versa. The joy lies in the ambiguity and the reverberation. And the holiness lies in the light…or in the interplay between light and dark. It’s jazz – the music of the spheres – and a quest to distill the essence and mystery of light.
Light Stream comes from water reflections, while your series Celestial Rust also looks at the universe through a hardscape of metals. How do you find your cosmos? At what point do you know a texture goes from small idea to all encompassing universe?
Most of my more recent series are all connected – and all about seeing the cosmic in microcosm. A friend and I were walking back from an art show and saw a car with lots of rust and corroded paint. But it wasn’t just a car. Looking at the hood was like seeing NASA photos – galaxies and showers of stars, the universe in a badly-needed paint job. That’s how the Celestial Rust series started. But the mysteries lie just under the surface in EVERYTHING. Another series, Tiny Immensity, began with a leaf covered with dew. If you really look, though, the leaf contains the tree it came from…and the moon and stars. Scientists tell us that we are literally stardust, that the atomic material in our bodies can be traced to stars that exploded billions of years ago, that all biological life is truly connected, that we are linked to all the atoms in the universe. It’s mindblowing. But if you look deeply enough, you get hints. Recently, my disposal broke, and the sink was totally clogged. But the murky water also contained a woman washing her hair with stars.
Like most of us in the time of Covid-19, I ride the rollercoaster between hope and despair. I have a couple of risk factors and live in an area where people haven’t been wearing masks, so I’ve been inside since early March.
What is next for you creatively? What are you working on?This time is changing all of us in ways we still don’t understand, and I don’t know yet how all this will play out in my life – let alone my work.
But I will continue to reach for the sacred in everyday life and will attempt to share what I find. All of us have moments of heightened consciousness. For some people they come while playing an instrument or while praying, walking in the woods, watching their child sleep or looking at the night sky. I want to make images that share and maybe even trigger those experiences – the times when we see beneath the surface of the world and feel the energies that form and unite us all.
About L.Aviva Diamond
In her solo exhibition “Light Stream,” abstract nature photographer L. Aviva Diamond plunges the viewer into water’s mystical essence. This is art as a form of meditation and reverence, transmitting the spiritual aspects of water. Diamond uses large-scale images to create an immersive experience of the ambiguous, shifting, elemental forces of the cosmos. Her work melds the natural external world with the inner realms of dream, myth and symbol. The boundaries between earth and sky, wave and galaxy, become blurred. Universal becomes cellular; water and light merge into simultaneous creation and destruction – the swirling energies of a shifting universe.
Aviva Diamond began taking photos as a teenager, inspired by the works of Minor White and Paul Klee. She spent many years as a journalist, reporting and shooting for The Miami Herald, winning a local Emmy in St. Louis, and becoming a network correspondent for ABC News. She later established a successful corporate media training business. In 2014, Diamond joined the Los Angeles Art Association and began exhibiting her work. Her art has been included in shows at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Palm Springs Art Museum, Annenberg Space for Photography, Neutra Institute Gallery, The Center for Fine Art Photography, the Latino Art Museum and various Southern California galleries.
To see more of Aviva Diamond‘s work log onto her website.