Wendi Schneider is a Denver-based visual artist widely known for her ongoing series of hand-gilded photographs, States of Grace –– illuminated impressions of grace in the natural world. Drawn to the serenity she finds in the sinuous elegance of organic forms, she embraces photography to preserve vanishing moments of beauty in our vulnerable environment. Schneider’s gilding process creates images that seemingly dance on the paper’s surface amidst reflections of light on precious metals, creating a synthesis of technique and subject.
Born in Memphis, TN in 1955, Schneider grew up in a family of artists, later earning an AA in Art History from Stephens College and a BA in Painting from Newcomb College at Tulane University. Her interest in photography germinated in the early 1980s with the use of a camera to reference models for oil paintings. Mesmerized by the possibilities of the photographic art form and the alchemy of the darkroom, yet missing the sensuousness of oils, Schneider began to layer oils on photographs to manipulate the boundaries between the real and the imagined. This process laid the groundwork for the unique layering and gilding that would later become the foundation of States of Grace.
Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another's fire may glow,
a harp on which another's passion, blow.
The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there's nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.
Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh
My work is a celebration of the senses anchored in the visual — an exploration of my spiritual connection to our vulnerable natural world and the transcendence I find in its beauty. In those magical moments when my eyes and essence are engaged, I photograph what I feel, as much as see. The images are layered digitally with color and texture to manipulate the boundaries between the real and imagined, inspired by my background in painting and art history.
the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
— Maya Angelou
Remember the night
you first saw
all the stars
reaching out to you
a circle of friends
dancing in the light
by a breezy fire
and lick the bottom
of an iron pot
full of magic potion
spilling over your lips
down your wrists
and arms raised high
to feel, to show
life is here
down by the roots
of trees so tall
you must fly
to see the top
and fly we will
as we run through the forest
laughing out loud
we leave behind
a place and time
where nothing is real
— Joseph Miller
A leisurely withdrawal to tranquility,
The sun, she descends.
Signifying an end,
Yet also a beginning -
New start, new change, new opportunity.
Gaze upon the sky spread before you like a canvas.
Mother Nature hand-paints tinges of each hue,
Mellow watercolours from periwinkle to scarlet.
Each day an ever-changing embodiment of her aptitude,
A fresh spectacle of allure.
Halflight turns to scenes of soft dusk,
Tiny opals of stars embellish the stratosphere,
The moon now smiles his spectral lustre...
— Leah Faye, Halflight
I follow intuitively where each image takes me, honoring the variations within the edition to elevate the ephemeral. Printed on translucent vellum or kozo, these ethereal illusions are gilded with precious metals on the verso, creating a luminosity that varies as the ambient light transitions.
My process infuses the artist’s hand and suffuses the treasured subjects with the implied spirituality of the precious metals – echoing the moment of capture and ensuring each illuminated impression is a unique object of reverence. My work is testament and tribute, adoration and obligation.
The rose will disappear
in the shadow of the night
for a moment or two.
Just for a cool break
only to bloom on the Moon
— Shofi Ahmed
Recognize your muse
Among the multitude of whispers.
To see her, through many colors, shining,
Tune your senses
To hear the highest tones,
Fly beyond the scale
To hear her melody,
Tune ears and eyes
To colors beyond the spectrum,
Recognize her beyond yellow and blue
Creating your own rainbow;
Have a way with her
To catch her grace in the sublime
For the Muse to recognize you
And choose among multitudes;
Whisper back to her, using newly invented notes
And show her the new colors of the rainbow.
— Dejan Stojanovic
As dusk descends my stride holds steady
buoyed by the gentle embrace
of the downing golden sun
early shadows fall soft
vesper's velvet blanket
drapes 'round my shoulders
envelops me in calm
there is still road to travel
eager to keep the journey
I'm drawn by the beauty
of the rising moon in sunset
coaxed by a soothing breeze I venture on toward my love
rolling amber fires the lane
spreads warm 'cross the horizon
mist begins to rise and waft
nestled in the valley
I see my hearth & home guilded copper in this eventide
my heart quickens
stirred by this gorgeous vale
the ribbon of its brook entwines my soul in wonder
my smile sweetens my pace livens
I hum a quiet evensong
in the grace of this splendid day
— Rob Kistner
So easily am I distracted by the beauty of trees.
Twisted branches, laden with leaves, draw me to
the imagined histories of moments past.
What lovers swooned beneath these boughs?
Which birds taught broods to spread their wings?
What wisdom can we glean merely by being near?
States of Grace : Wendi Schneider