Manuela Thames

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St. Paul, Minnesota

“Sleeping in the Forest”

Everyone has their own story of upbringing. We all carry our baggage, some more, some less. For a long time I had to face my past, analyze it, come to terms with it, reconcile and move on from it. This self portrait series is about who I have been and who I have become, merged together. There are expressions of connection and separation, darkness and light, fear and courage, the desire to hide and to be seen. There is within much of this an interweaving and sometimes confluence of reality and dream. The setting reflects the way in which the forest has been a shelter for me since my childhood, the place where life seems to make sense, and faith and hope become a kind of reality. In this way it’s a place of solace, stillness, and peace, as I try to bring out in the images. ”Sleeping in the Forest” was originally inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem of the same title.

I am a self-taught photographer, and I find inspiration in poetry and music. My primary artistic motivation is to visualize the struggles and pains in life, the experience of loss and grief, my journey toward self knowledge, and the elusive beauty within all of that.