Maggie Steber: The Secret Garden Of Lily LaPalma
"The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma is a series of photographs made in the shadows of a dark side of me that, as of late, I have begun to re-explore. Without meaning to make them so, these photographs reveal my fears and private memories, all the things that are wrapped up in a human life. In The Garden there is danger and beauty in a wild jungle that grows unfettered. The photographs are a documentation of my subconscious and imagination, often posing as something entirely unrelated and recognised only by me. They are created spur of the moment. I go from the gut. I don’t want them to be perfect because reality isn’t perfect; it’s messy, and the imperfection of these spontaneous moments reflects what I’m after.
The Garden is where I am the maiden standing on the hilltop, the wind blowing through my hair as I wait for the ships bearing treasures to roll in on the waves. I am the wild horse running across an open plain without borders. I am the witness to dark and mysterious things. I have let loose a part of me, joyously rebelling against the tyranny of the documentary photography that has described me for decades and against how I am perceived as an artist. I call upon all those things I loved growing up alone: mysteries, b-grade horror films, science fiction, the noir and sensuous forbidden ideas, anything that smacked of surreallity, mystery, intrigue, beauty, danger, and outer space. All these ideas have converged and landed me here in the Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma
Maggie is a documentary photographer who has worked in 67 countries on stories concerning the human experience. Her honors include a Guggenheim Foundation Grant for 2017-2018 for The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma, Leica Medal of Excellence, World Press Photo First Prize in Spot News, the Overseas Press Club, Pictures of the Year for Best Documentary Photo, the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, the Alicia Patterson Grant, the Ernst Haas Grant, and a Knight Foundation grant for the New American Newspaper project, a visually-driven tabloid researched and conceived by Steber. In 2014, Steber was named as one of 11 Women of Vision by National Geographic Magazine. She served as Director of Photography at The Miami Herald from 1999 to 2003 where the photo staff won a Pulitzer Prize and were twice finalists. Her photographs are included in the Library of Congress, The Richter Collection, the Guggenheim Foundation Collection and many private collections. Maggie works for various publications including National Geographic Magazine. She teaches workshops around the world and has served as a judge for many grants and organizations including World Press Photo, Pulitzer Prize, the Alexia Grant and the Alicia Patterson Grant. She recently joined VII Photo Agency as an Emeritus Member.