I am a professional fine art photographer exploring life as an artist, educator, athlete and mother. A film camera is my preferred medium to capture the personal and the emotional in everyday life — joy, paradox, solitude. My photography looks to find the moment captured in a tiny fraction of a second, to stop time, savor it, and understand it. www.saraguren.com
As a graduate of The Rocky Mountain School of Photography (2002, 2003), I went on to begin my career photographing fine art landscapes. My seminal photography work is limited-edition macro (close-up) orchids printed on canvas, titled Floralscapes, which debuted at the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Gallery and was featured at their Orchid Mania event in 2005. I went on to photograph for non-profit organizations such as Cuyahoga Valley National Park, various Montessori Schools across the country and the North American Montessori Teacher’s Association.
In 2007 my fine artwork took a turn into alternative processes. As a lover of the darkroom in photography school, but not a fan of the chemicals, I began researching more ecologically friendly ways of printing photographs. I have tried transferring photographs to paper using lavender essential oils, rubbing alcohol and joint liniment all in the name of trying to keep the process a less toxic and a closed one – one that I could do by myself in a studio and not need an outside lab or printer. In 2009 I found a process from the 1940’s that really spoke to me – Anthotypes.
This process allows me to create an emulsion made from plant material (material which I most often source from my backyard or the local farmer’s market) and contact print a positive image on transparent paper in the sun for multiple weeks with a stunning effect. In 2009, I submitted my first print to The Center for Fine Art Photography’s alternative process juried show and was accepted. At the time, there were very few people doing this work and all my exploration was on my own. This is what hooked me into a photography-specific sustainable practice as well as I could possibly figure out how to do at the time. Fast forward to today, taking this course is such a boost to this practice which I have put aside while having kids and starting a family. To be able to connect with others who are interested in sustainable, process-oriented practices and hear their successes, failures, thoughts and teachings is what I am most interested in. How do we do this? How can we do this together?
Now to the teaching side. I began teaching photography to Montessori Middle School students in 2003 and continue today as the Visual Arts Coordinator for Hershey Montessori School’s Huntsburg, Ohio campus teaching art to 7th – 12th graders. The Huntsbug campus is based on a 98-acre farm complete with woods, vegetable gardens and greenhouse, a woodshop, beautiful classroom spaces and a dorm spaces for international boarding students.
The population I serve includes local students who move up from the birth through 6th grade Hershey Montessori School campus as well as boarding students from the U.S. and all over the world. Hershey Montessori School is a private school and thus allows me a lot of freedom in the art department, therefore, our projects refer mostly to the process side of art. If a student has a specific goal, wants to go to art school or are driven by having an end product then I push for the finished piece in our art projects. But sometimes I find the most learning and self-construction happens in the process of art-making. It is all about finding the right tools/materials that will allow the adolescent to go through this important part of their development. Maria Montessori states that art is an opportunity to “… open up the ways of expression, which through exercises and external aids will help the difficult development of the personality.” Essentially, there is such rapid growth at the adolescent stage of life that there are times that the student may not have words for the way they are feeling, but as adults, we can give them the tools in art to help them understand and express themselves.
Lastly, as a Montessori child myself (I went to Montessori school from when I was 2 ½ until 6th grade) I find a deep connection with these students, and I connect with their need to understand their place in the timeline of humanity. An essential part of this understanding of where they fit within society has to do with their place on the land.
I am looking for the expertise to help facilitate this work through art. In this course I am very much looking forward to bringing a class to my students specifically based on creating a sustainable corner in our classroom using materials harvested from our land and having them help me grow it as the years go on. This is work that is to be done with them, not just by me, to make it meaningful, genuine and rooted.
P.S. I almost forgot this part! I live on an 8-acre farm with my husband, two daughters — ages 6 and 9, our dog and cat. We have started our homestead this past year with chickens, bees, a big vegetable garden and an angora rabbit. The kids and I have been harvesting and spinning our angora rabbit’s wool and are looking forward to doing some cool things with beeswax. I’ll take any suggestions on how to take both of these art forms further as I am currently in the learning process. Thanks for reading!