Dennis W. Felty
contemplation of beauty
the soul to grow wings."
As an artist, I am continuously awed by the exquisite beauty and wonder of
creation and its profound implications regarding man's capacity for
transcendence. Within our being, moment by moment, each of us holds the
ability to be both hero and villain. Indeed, it is only when we understand and
embrace this reality that we can hope to rise above the competing duality,
choosing hero. Carl Jung defines man's "shadow" as an inherent part
of his nature and as the source of much of manís passion, comedy, fear,
creativity, heroism, striving and transcendence. Since the beginning of his
existence, man has expressed and explored issues of "Soul" in the
form of stories and myths which offer clues to the spiritual potentialities of
human life. Through the telling and retelling of myths, we evoke their power
in our own lives. As a storyteller, images serve as a powerful medium for the
exploration and telling of myths and are an important tool in the continuing
exploration of man's very nature.
Joseph Campbell observes "One thing that comes out in myths is that at
the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The blackest moment is
the moment when the message of transformation is going to come. Out of
darkness comes the light."
This is a powerful force that sets the stage for the exercise of free will and
a continuing encounter with the deepest issues of soul. This duality is
essential to defining and understanding our nature as an inherent part of
God's creation and offers insight into the human condition and man's potential
As a fine art photographer I am interested in making the work of the soul more
visible and real, enriching our everyday lives. It is in these moments when
our soul speaks to us in a quiet, perhaps even a silent voice - wielding great
power and influence at both a conscious and unconscious level.
A primary role of art is to provide clarity and insight into issues of soul as
inherent elements of man's role in Godís Creation. As awareness and
consciousness increases, so does the clarity with which we are able to
perceive the exquisite beauty and wholeness of God's Creation. Ultimately, art
acts as both a mirror and a lens that gives presence and visibility to that
which previously was unseen, unknown and not understood, often residing in the
underground of the conscious.
It is worthy to note that in this endeavor one learns that - the perception of
all great beauty always has an element of "strangeness" and in its
expression is an opportunity to truly know the perfection of all Creation.
Photography is a universal language and its truths are accessible to all who
view an image regardless of culture, nationality, age, language or status in
life. The camera is a tool that crosses cultures, breaks boundaries and grants
access and connections that are not available through any other means.
In my work as a fine art photographer I seek expression and a deeper knowledge
of these issues and in that pursuit a profound experience of being intensely
alive. It is here that oneís life has resonance within our innermost being,
knowing the intense rapture of life. By following our passion and our bliss
and by being willing to enter the "underground", we find paths that
have been there all the while, waiting for each of us. The life we live
becomes the life we should be living and one has the opportunity to know the
fire of passion and the continuing renewal of the life within. On this
wondrous path, the art of photography becomes an instrument of story telling,
spirituality, faith, seeing, knowing, exploration and celebration.
My current artistic themes include an exploration of
memorial art from around the world including work in Paris, Rome, Milan, New
York and Moscow. Iím very interested in the role sensuality plays in memorial
art and how this work provides insight into manís struggle with mortality and
transcendence. I have also been photographing Coney Island for about 14 years
and am absolutely intrigued with the manner in which Coney Island embraces and
celebrates diversity in the human experience. I am involved in
continuing projects in Russia, Romania, Moldova and China, photographing
children living in orphanages, psychiatric hospitals and in the underground of
Bucharest Romania. My newest project is at Eastern State Penitentiary in
Philadelphia where I am working to photograph the historic prison as
Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your
universe. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. ..... I do not
ask to see the reason for it all: I ask only to share the wonder of it all."
Joshua Abraham Heschel
1. Campbell, Joseph.
The Power of Myth p. 37
2. Campbell, Joseph.
The Power of Myth p. 207
Campbell, Joseph. (1988).
The Power of Myth. Apostrophe S Productions, Inc., United