• Mae

The Taiga: Margaret and William

“My True Love Went Riding out in White and Green and Gray”


"Lovers Eyes" Models: Skyy Ramos and Lena Vani

Margaret and William are the archetypal star-crossed lovers of tragic fairy tales and love stories which repeat themselves throughout the ages. Colin Meloy, in an interview about the Hazards of Love album, said that he thought of Margaret and William as traditional names he’d heard before in hundreds of folk songs.


For the stars of my story, I wanted to create elements of clothing that would tie them together visually. Because the photos are not literally describing the story the same way that a film or comic strip would, I use what I can control:colors, models/actors, and costumes to give the story a sense of time passing. I also wanted to make sure I worked with these characters throughout all of the New England seasons.



As I get deeper and deeper into the Taiga, I become more aware of the seasons passing, all of the beauty of nature that appears and disappears within a few days. Some days I will notice a particularly beautiful, bright flower patch, or collection of brambles and feel helpless to be caught in such a beautiful spot with no costumes, no characters, no camera. I worked a lot this winter on creating things that would be ready when spring arrived, and have been busy shooting in all of my free time now that the flowers are blooming!

Before I start sharing those images I want to rewind a few months to Margaret and William in winter.

My sister gave me a beautiful tarot deck for Christmas illustrated by Will Worthington, which I thought was absolutely captivating. When she gave it to me, she said “this reminds me of your photos”


One in particular, the card called “The Forest Lovers”, excited me because it was the essence of the tranquility and balance I wanted to evoke in my photo of Margaret and William.

The white jacket I created for Margaret was the first piece I made for this project last summer: it is a tailored jacket and the feathers are all hand-cut on the backto tie in the bird imagery that goes with her character.


The Margaret Jacket top, before the skirt was added

Margaret and William's vests in process, lots and lots of pins! Note the feathered trims.

I added some feathers to the William costume as well to establish a connection between them.. I ended up making them both a few different looks, a floor-length vest/robe piece for William, a tailored jacket more like Margaret’s white one that will be for the springtime, and for Margaret a short darker vest to match his winter robe.


I've been working with dried flowers to create headdresses for the Taiga Characters


I worked with Lena Vani, my stunning Margaret, and Skyy Ramos as William. I am so grateful to them and to my friend Angelica Marciano, who all agreed to meet me in the woods and hike about a mile to a frozen lake to get the shots I was imagining! I owe so much thanks to my friends and models for working with me; sometimes I feel absolutely crazy when I come up with these ideas, and while I love that this work always ends up being collaborative and introducing me to new people, it is definitely not for everyone. It was a cold winter day, and we were hiking through a few feet of packed down snow. These talented and generous individuals really came through for me and my project!


"The Forest Lovers" Models: Lena Vani and Skyy Ramos

I knew this shot was a keeper as soon as I took it; it truly encapsulates my vision of a storybook romance come to life.




This photo in particular means a lot to me.


I won't go into the details of Skyy's personal life, but he got a tragic phone call while we were out at the lake taking photographs. It brought me back instantly to around 6 years ago when I was preparing to shoot my first movie. I found out that my cousin, who was a big inspiration to me, had died. I was completely shattered by this news, a feeling that I live with to this day. Everyone told me to cancel the shoot, but I went ahead and spent the entire day working on shooting my movie. I had this feeling in my gut that the only way to keep going was to keep working.


When Skyy got this phone call, I told him he didn't have to keep shooting but he was really adamant that we complete what we came for. He and Lena posed for this final shot. I was so touched that he was willing to continue creating in a time of personal tragedy and I was reminded why I do this, why I keep creating art.

When someone close to me passes, I get this feeling that life is so short, so precious, and that I have so little time to bring to life all the things that are in my head. And I am so honored to come in contact with other people who are artists as well, and who keep creating in the face of tragedy and personal struggles. The Taiga has connected me to so many wonderful people so far, and I am so grateful for all of them and the stories we now share.


"Margaret" Lena Vani

"William" Skyy Ramos

To end on a lighter note, I wanted to invite all readers to some upcoming events:


The first is 4/27 in Western MA.


I will be showcasing my work and giving a talk on photography, art and costume-making in Western MA this month on the 27th! (A Saturday) The event is in Belchertown, MA and is part of their "Art Walk" I will be displaying my work that morning beginning at 9am and then will be giving a talk about my current series, the Taiga at 1pm. This will include my backstory and experience, behind the scenes photos, and some interactive things! Come chat with me about art, fashion, photography and bring any questions you can think of about my work! For more info click here!


The Second is 5/4 and 5/5


I will be taking part in Somerville Open studios! You can check out my work alongside amazing local artist Haley Cormier at 66 Ten Hills Rd, Somerville, MA. Come see my work, chat with me, buy prints, see the costumes in person and watch as Haley Cormier and I collaborate on some new photographs.

The official description from their website: "Artists open their doors for you to experience the magic of art production! Visit over 300 Somerville artists in 79 locations throughout the city. See demonstrations, buy art, and get up close to the works of our talented community of artists & makers...just don't lick the paint!" For more info click here!


If you want to subscribe to the Taiga series be sure to add your email!


Until next time,


Mae



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