The start of the year is very often a time of reflection and transition. We resolve to make changes at a time of year that, at least in the North, is largely known for limited daylight and low temperatures (in a word, it's really cold and dark). For our first Curator's Choice of 2023, we selected a piece that felt reflective of this period of time. Alyssa Fortin's fine art photograph, Galeteia captures a female figure, engulfed by light, airy fabric as she floats just beneath the surface of pitch black water. Read on to find out more about the meaning behind this piece and we we love it as this month's Choice.
What It's About
Massachussetts-based photographer Alyssa Fortin's work explores the female form in liminal spaces - where land and air meet water. Working with dancers and yoga masters, Fortin pushes her subjects to defy gravity, balance through sheer power and will, and then give in and submerge. It is there, under the water with her dancers, that Fortin taps into something unique, offering a glimpse into another realm.
Each of Fortin's pieces are named for heroines of classical and western mythology. "The concept of metamorphosis has long fascinated me and influenced my art," Fortin says. "Transformation of forms and life forces (be it in nature, our lives, or our bodies) is a highly complex and mystical process. Galateia and her tragic transformation of her lover inspired the creation of this image...
"Galateia, one of the fifty Nereides, and the goddess of calm seas, attracted the attention of the man-eating Cyclops, Polyphemus off the coast of Sicily. Seeking peace, she flees Polyphemus, falling in love instead with the gentle Sicillian Shepard, Akis. Polyphemus in a jealous rage crushes the boy beneath a rock. Heartbroken, Galeteia transforms Akis into a river, which she enters, unfurling wings of 'milky white,' floating within and forever embraced by her eternal and now divine love."
Where It Works
Because of both the striking composition and warm contrast of light and dark in this piece, Galeteia has the power to both elevate and dramatize any space. We love it in a white, creme, and grey-toned room so that it really stands out as a focal point, and in minimalist spaces where it can add movement. It's also highly versatile in terms of style - it can add visual texture to a modern space, and bring a more traditional space into the present day. No matter the type of space it's in, Galeteia rightfully demands attention, so we love it anywhere where it can do just that.
Why We Love It
We love Galateia because it's not only stunning, but the metamorphosis Fortin aims to capture really comes to life. The symbolism, the deep, rich color, the warmth of the form against the cool, dark water - all coincide to create a piece that feels like many of us do this time of year. We're suspended, almost frozen, engulfed by dark - but we're in the process of change.
On a broader scale, we love Alyssa's work as it captures a view of the human form that we don't typically get to see. Most often, it's grounded and weighed down, a reminder of the burdensome messiness of humanity. Fortin elevates her subjects even as they go below the surface. Their weightlessness, the way they calmly and gracefully interact with an environment we associate with resistance or tumultuousness makes her subjects almost other-worldly. It gives us a new perspective on our own humanness - that we hold an innate ability to stay calm in an anxious world, and not only find beauty in the unknown, but become it.
Alyssa Fortin’s extensive scope includes portrait, travel and fine art photography. Known for her intimate black and white portraits and vibrant color travel photographs, Fortin has over the past thirty years focused on capturing powerful images of the everyday lived experiences of those around her. Inspired by the natural, unfiltered beauty of the people and the world we live in, Fortin is a visual storyteller who documents the journey of her subjects, friends and their families from birth, through growth, aging, and even death. Exhilarating, tender, empowering, and sometimes haunting, her photos immortalize the most joyous, loving, hopeful, and at times heartbreaking moments of her subjects’ lives. Her work touches the souls of her subjects and viewers alike, creating timeless connections between image and life.
Fortin studied the art of black and white film photography while earning a BFA at the University of Florida and later a Master's Degree in Art Education at the University of Georgia. For several years following that she taught photography and fine arts. These courses included workshops in pinhole photography, advanced photography, 2-D art, 3-D art, drawing and painting, integrating current events, political and art history, curating group shows in locations such as The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Alyssa draws influence from American photographers Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, and New Zealand photographer Niki Boon. She also became inspired by a workshop with Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai in 2002 to develop her skills in film.
Alyssa Fortin's limited edition photography can be purchased unframed, or framed in a white Larson Juhl frame. Galeteia is available in sizes 24" x 27", 30" x 34", and 40" x 45".