Morgan McKenna IMHO is Colorado’s most innovative photographer. That's the good news. Meanwhile outside her studio our sensationalized 24/7 cable news cycle , FB newsfeed and ancillary images in cyberspace serve up violent and severe images. Content analysis studies indicate that footage of shootings, wrecks, disasters, war, domestic violence, crime & bloodshed exceed 50 impressions daily. For large consumers of TV and social media the number can exceed 100 violent impressions. We interviewed mixed media artist the Maestro McKenna who is doing something simple, pure and beautiful. She formats her natural and calming photography to museum quality available to all. The best description for her art is tranquility for the masses. In an age where pathology, stress and anxiety permeate our culture this is desperately needed and therapeutic respite. Check out this brilliant interview below !
McKenna Images - authentic while simultaneously surreal
BOC - Describe the difference between an image in your memory of outdoors
and the images you photograph?
When I was 9, my family moved south of Littleton into wide-open prairie and near an unpopulated stretch of the Highline Canal. I’d left my friends behind to make this move, and there were only a few children in the fledgling neighborhood.
I thought it was the worst trick in the world to play on a kid. But in those impressionable years between 9 and 18, I was shaped by this environment in
more ways than I can count. How could I have known that the land itself - the trees, water, plants, animals - would become my best friend? My solace during hard times? My inspiration? But it did. I found many excuses to walk the fields and the trail along the canal, sometimes until after the sun was long behind the mountains.
Wild iris, wild asparagus, choke cherry bushes in bloom, families of mallard and wood ducks, bellows of bull frogs, the lilt of the meadowlark, the cry of the red wing black bird, and the contralto hoot of the great horned owls - these became the tapestry of my world. My soul.
Today, when I’m in any natural setting, the emotional response from my childhood comes back to me quite often. The difference is, I must work harder as an adult to be in the moment. But when I let the cares of my day - all my grown-up worries - fade into the background, there I am, a child again with nature as my teacher.
No doubt, the best images I make are when I simply let the flower, the tree, the water, the bird speak to me, right here, right now. Because that is where the beauty lives.
BOC - We love your website and all the images. Would you be willing to work with someone who wanted to sign on with you and rotate out images? I guess we would be talking a lease program.
I’d be very open to that. I’ve thought about doing it before. Seems like a win-win arrangement.
BOC - Do you think humanity is connected or disconnected from nature?
Today’s culture constantly pressures us to be something other than we are; to project an image of ourselves rather than feel what we feel, know what we know, and speak what we know. Most people I’ve met don’t feel like they are ever enough. They feel flawed and un-loveable. And that’s the bait. It’s better to be someone you’re not, so we spend years honing and polishing an exterior - a false self - that will somehow be more acceptable. We think that success will only come if we hide ourselves and play the game, whether that’s the game of getting into just the right school, landing the status job, finding the perfect relationship, or piling up a bunch of stuff.
The great Jim Carrey said, “Your need for acceptance makes you invisible.” He speaks a deep truth here. When we play to other’s expectations or even what we think others want, we take our true selves and put them in solitary confinement, so far down in our psyche, even we can’t find ourselves.
The irony is, everything in nature is just itself. A tree is a tree. A peacock is a peacock, and proud to be showing off in technicolor. Nature’s power comes from being unapologetically authentic. In that way, I think nature both inspires and scares humans. We seem to be the only species that can choose not to be who we are. We can reject our soul’s design, which is exactly the reason we need more connection to nature - the “more than human world” - not less. To inhabit that world of purity, if even for a moment, is to come back to our true selves.
BOC - Do you think your business fills a need in the community? What is it?
McKenna Image’s purpose is to bring the transforming power of nature into people’s everyday lives, whether in the workplace, hospitals, clinics, hotels, or at home.
BOC - If you could think of a piece of literature or film linked to what you do what would it be?
I’ve always loved Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “Inversnaid.” He praises wildness and describes it in cascading, tumbling verse so persistently tactile, the reader is done in – literally stunned into wonder - by the fierce, intricate beauty he describes. And he did it without one image. If my images can inspire a small fraction of the encounter with nature that is encapsulated in Hopkins’ poem, then I will have done well.
BOC - What kinds of media do you use in your images?
In my experience, the “feel” of a work is just as important as the image itself. My feel, I mean the texture of the medium used as a base for the print and the associations people have with the various surfaces. Each type of surface tends to communicate a different mood.
I love fine art paper for black and white work. The paper’s extremely fine grain perfectly captures all the tones, from blackest black to absolute white. For my impressionistic work, I choose various textures of watercolor paper to give a more “painterly” feel to the scenes. Impressionistic images also work well on canvas for the same reason.
Fine art prints fused to metal offer a more contemporary feel. I go for a low gloss, satin finish on those prints most of the time, but occasionally I have customers who ask for extreme gloss look on metal. There’s also a raw look I can achieve with metal, where the silver becomes whatever was white or light colored in the image. That process achieves a decidedly urban look which is very popular right now.
One of my favorite media is acrylic. Images are face mounted on the back, and as they shine through the quarter inch of clear material, any dimension is enhanced. Lighting these acrylic images (as one would light a painting) adds a marvelous luminosity and even more dimension.
BOC - How would someone get in touch with you if they’re interested in buying one of your works?
They are welcome to go onto my website, mckennaimage.com, and look through my four distinct galleries there: Close In, Impressions, Classics, and Trends. They can send me a message through the contact form there or e-mail email@example.com.