To understand the art of Marcia Smilack, it helps to know that she is synesthetic – that is, she sees sounds, hears colors, and feels on her skin the textures she sees.
This unique artist/photographer, who calls herself a “Reflectionist,” uses her synesthesia to tell her when to snap the shutter as soon as she sees, hears, and feels sounds and textures in reflections on water. She thinks of the wind as the paintbrush, the surface of the water her canvas, and her camera the instrument by which she records her observations. She never manipulates a picture after taking it. The list of titles she wrote for her pictures reads like poetry.
But it isn’t necessary to know any of this to appreciate the breathtaking beauty and inventiveness of her astoundingly painterly photos. They speak for themselves.
Coterie of Circles
Muses and Halos
The Wonder of White
Bells of Kiev
The Bluest Eye from Bells of Kiev
Lavender Plus Gold Equals Bells from Bells of Kiev
Marcia Smilack grew up in Bexley, Ohio and attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison as an undergraduate. She received a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. She taught literature and writing in various colleges, including Brown, but the job market was difficult at that time. In 1988, she moved to Martha’s Vineyard, switched to writing full time, developed writer’s block and, having acquired her first camera, began to photograph harbor scenes. She shot red buoys when she heard the sound of a Siren – in other words, she was using her synesthesia (or as she says, “I shoot a picture when a hear a chord of color, which, for me, is not a metaphor, but the way I perceive the world"). Her first exhibition was held in 1993. Since that time, she has had many solo exhibitions, written many articles and become a professional speaker on her art. She explains, “while it appears that I am photographing the landscapes around me, the truth is, I am photographing my emotions.”