A Provincetown Artist:
Linda Ohlson Graham
by Christie Lowrance
Christie's article about Linda was presented at the Dec. 2013 Cape Cod Branch meeting of the National League of American Pen Women. Excerpts from the article:
Among the most frequent guests on WOMR's Poet's Corner, she shares in soft, dulcet tones, her thoughts on life, the Earth, and the Universe. "The path can be arduous and labyrinthic," Graham recites from her Journal Immediately Following a Near-death Experience: "Though we must find refuge from a materialistic, vacuous world." Graham has been recording stream of consciousness thoughts and aphorisms since (what Linda lovingly called:) 'minor brain surgery' in 1993.
"I believe art is truly inspired and that inspiration comes from a higher plane." Inspiration has also come from the painter J.M.W. Turner. Graham lived in (1984-1993) and co-directed (1984 to 1996) The Turner Museum in Denver. "Living in the midst of all that art, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, was like living in Heaven."
Graham's fascination with the elements grew over the five years she spent sailing with time in the Caribbean.
"I traveled approx. 12,000 miles -- at an average of five knots."
She learned how to meditate and chant while in Haiti. During her first meditation she recalls a "visual of the heavens inside my mind, as if I were traveling in space."
This revelation altered Grahams perception of what it means to travel. "It made me realize that all the open space that I had ever longed for was available to me when I quieted my thoughts. The space within me was as great, if not greater than all the outer space."
Graham also believes that meditation can open up her mind to receive subtle life enhancing guidance. "I really think Humanity can REALize ways to solve our worlds problems by quieting our minds for a while and listening."
"I'm striving to create images that touch people very deeply within, that might give them a still point or elicit a feeling they've never felt before."
In an unusual departure from most standard photography, Graham combines many of her photographs with original writings or poetry.
Graham said the focus of her work is to bring to people the experience of lifting their spirits. She said when she and her daughter arrived on the Cape in the fall of 1996, a hurricane had been predicted. Approaching the Cape Cod Canal, they saw dark clouds above a blue sky and in the mist above the clouds, a rainbow.
To Graham, the rainbow was an omen of good things. Within a week, she had a little house and a job.
Her experience of visiting other countries less fortunate than the United States has served to enrich her artistic eye and taught her that it is the simple things in life that create true contentment.
Shortly after Linda, along with her daughter Isis, returned to Provincetown to live, they popped in one evening at the Coffeehouse at the Mews and Linda got up to read from her spiritual journal. There was a depth of reflection there that belied a woman who had lived long enough to come in touch with the realities that matter. Some time later, the community got to discover the photography of a woman who had traveled extensively and worked hard to capture the inner life of people in Third World countries."
She describes her work in photography as photo-journalism, capturing people and places.
When sailing, she took with her very little film but says her approach to each of her shots was very spontaneous. One of the photos in the show is of three people --- the Captain, a young Haitian, and a model all dressed in white. Graham remembers the day. "We were all in the cockpit … they posed for me … and I took one photo."
Linda Ohlson Graham joins renowned author Alatishe Kolawole to connect us to our shared humanity through this beautiful, thought-provoking collection of poems and prose.
Each page is filled with love, purpose, urgency, and inspiration to heal humanity through a moment or two of silence in enough of the collective mind - a vision that has come to define Linda’s life’s work.