Spiritual Passports: The Unseen Images of an Artist Who Never Lived to See Them
Book: Spiritual Passports: The Unseen Images of an Artist Who Never Lived to See Them , by Susan Cox, ISBN10: 0615276628, ISBN13: 9780615276625, University of New Mexico Press, February 2010, Paperback
An international executive and author, ALFORD B. "ANDY" JOHNSON is president of the board of directors of the Taos Center for the Arts and a firm believer that a community without a dynamic visual and performing arts program suffers from a loss of soul.
SUSAN COX is an international graphic designer and author. Her previous book, Acting Her Age: My Ten Years as a Ten-Year-Old: My Memories as Radio's Little Orphan Annie, won Best in Show, Crystal Book Award of Excellence at the Chicago Book and Media Show, and a Silver Award in Fine Editions at the Gold Ink Awards.
MARTHA WOOD was a world traveler whose lifelong loves included South America and the poetry of Pablo Neruda. In addition to photography and other artistic pursuits, she was an active community volunteer and graduate of Stanford University, where she studied Spanish and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
What we know of Martha Wood's spiritual quest we know only from images composed in her mind's eye and recovered from her camera after her sudden death in the Andean highlands of Peru--images that she never saw on film. Wood had traveled to Peru with her husband, Andy Johnson, and a group of friends. Pursuing separate journeys, they were to meet at the fabled Inca city of Machu Picchu. But fate intervened, and Wood passed away silently in the quiet hours of night.
Spiritual Passports/Pasaportes Espirituales is a mosaic of extraordinary images and colors, poignant excerpts from Pablo Neruda's poetry, and elegant design brought into vivid focus by the emotions and mystery of Martha Wood's final days in Peru and the spiritual and artistic journey that culminated for her there. Photography was not Wood's profession, but it was her passion for ten years. Through her lens, Wood turned the massive constructions of the Incas--great stones precisely fitted together, terraces of salt ponds spilling down whole mountainsides--into works of abstract art. The photographs also share a visual and spiritual sensibility with an indigenous art form Wood loved--handmade paper. Examples of contemporary Mexican amate paper, reminiscent of the "spiritual passports" the Aztec placed on their dead, complement Wood's photographs throughout this tribute to an artist who never lived to see her finest work.
While traveling and photographing the Andean highlands of Peru, Wood—a passionate amateur photographer and worldwide traveler—died suddenly. Graphic designer Cox and Johnson (president of the board of directors, Taos Ctr. for the Arts) have compiled her posthumously published images of Peru with contemporary Mexican amate paper designs and the poetry of Chilean writer Pablo Neruda, which is printed in both English and Spanish. As the title suggests, the book functions as a kind of tribute to Wood and to her personal search for spiritual growth. VERDICT This lavish, highly designed book draws deeply from Neruda's poems, which beautifully complement Wood's first and only book of photographs. Recommended for poetry fans and general readers.—Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA
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