Stella Johnson: AL SOL, 2008 - Signed
Villages found down dusty roads, difficult to reach physically, and, once there, difficult to enter and fully understand. Living off the land, daily tasks take over, from hauling water from the well to collecting firewood. There is no flick of the switch. In my work, I literally move into people's homes and into their lives. I am interested in watching and listening for the mood and emotion of village life. I photograph those daily moments we would forget to tell our grandchildren. My Greek grandmothers were raised in villages like these. These are my roots, they drive my work, and in making these photographs I am 'at home'.
In 1987, I went to Mexico to photograph women's lives. I approached a woman in her back yard making pottery and asked if I could photograph her. Juanita said yes. The next day I returned and asked again. I kept returning until my presence was woven into her family's daily existence. I have visited Juanita and her family each of the 23 years since we met. Cameroon followed, and then Nicaragua. Years of memories and patience come together to comprise the photographs that have become Al Sol, published by the University of Maine Press in association with exhibitions at the University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor, ME in July 2008 and the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, in January 2010