Lupine Hammack is a master at transforming a person’s view; whether philosophical or concrete, his imagery offers possibilities, refinements, a way to make new universes within the old. He created “A Calm Place,” inviting others to join. We gladly accepted that invite and sat for a brief chat.
Many photographers partake in personal projects to scratch an itch, to experiment, to solve an issue. To the distant observer, taking in your work during the troubled times of COVID-19, this project reads as a literal and figurative invitation to join you in A Calm Place. What was the intent of the project when you created it?
With A Calm Place, we asked ourselves what we can do in a time of waiting to generate awareness for the tools people can use to find stillness. A lot of energy right now is being put into worrying about things that are out of our control. A Calm place is grounding us back to our roots and allowing us to refocus our energy on what we are in control of – our perspective. It’s our invitation to take a little adventure, to slow it all down and be present in the moment, to find a respite from the frantic nature of uncertainty.
Nature and its ability to slow things down allow for phenomenal things to take place in ordinary ways that then, because of our current life situation, become something extraordinary. By and large, people in our community, the creative community, appreciate nature. We just do. We get out and ride bikes, go to the beach, and all of these places are tied to our creativity. We wanted to show that no matter the situation, we always have more in common than not.
A Calm Place is nothing short of a love letter to our community. What we’re saying is that we care about you and albeit virtually, we’re here for you, and we’ll see you soon. The response we’ve gotten so far from friends and colleagues is, “I feel like this is a place I’ve been to before.”
You’ve shared that your background, having grown up in the foothills, exploring in the woods, was idyllic. It’s no surprise that you present a calm place as being in nature. The videos and stills go beyond imagery, interlacing poetic descriptions and thoughts about this particular calm place. Where is this? What does it mean to you?
The literal answer is that this is a small farm in Northern California within driving distance of San Francisco. If you want to, you can go up for a visit and come back on the same day, which is hard to believe. But a place is not always a place; what we’re talking about is an emotional space to occupy. We wanted to create an ambiance in the series, a universe within a universe, one that we can all relate to from our childhoods. It’s that moment in childhood where time slows down, and the days stretch out. The cadence calms down, and there’s just a sense of serene peace and quiet that trickles out into everything.
You’ve spoken of your vision through alchemy and that to see what is possible truly, one must first create the kinds of environments where the crazy things can happen, a habitat to produce alchemy.
Is a calm place one of the habitats you reference to bring creativity?
When we talk about A Calm Place, we’re first and foremost talking about a habitat that we’re building internally to be receptive to phenomena – to that magic playing out. That’s the tricky bit in there; from our perspective, stillness is the precursor to accessing creativity. So if our brains are too busy, and we’re too worried about the future, we miss it all. By slowing our minds and getting present and in the current moment, it allows us to observe the phenomena that are always playing out right in front of us.
What are you doing to keep calm during sheltering in place?
For us, believing in what we are doing and truly being passionate about it is more important than ever before because that is our North Star. It keeps us moving in the right direction, even when we can’t see where we’re going. Finding ourselves in a situation of uncertainty is an opportunity to adjust our lens, and trust that there is always some good at work.
As a team in this process, we’ve felt a massive amount of growth happening. It’s been an evolution of our thinking. The thing that got us here and into a teamwork mindset is being collaborative and learning how to be vulnerable enough to accept help and to be caring enough to offer that same thing. Having people to talk to and share our experience with has been instrumental in staying calm during this time.
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