Long before ever capturing an image with a camera, Celia Pearson experienced a visual awakening during a childhood immersed in environmental beauty. Growing up on a farm outside of Washington, DC, she was free to roam the countryside, riding her pony through what seemed to be endless acres of farmland, traveling lanes and fields that took her from one farm to the next. In the summer, she stayed with her paternal grandparents in their home on a small island off of Kittery Point, Maine. There, along the shore with her family, Pearson says, “We collected things, always. That place where the land meets the sea is a very special place to me.” It’s a perfect metaphor for the liminal space Pearson explores through her creative process. Through this lens, finely attuned to beauty, Pearson finds compositions, shapes, and patterns, filling her work with the energy of the unseen.
Local photographer the late Dick Bond was Pearson’s first and only teacher—and the reason she became a photographer. “He was a scientist in a state of wonder,” she says. Bond taught photography at the tiny Stratus Gallery on State Circle, where Pearson took her first class in 1972. When Pearson told him, “I want to photograph what you can’t see,” he responded, “You can’t photograph what you can’t see!” But Pearson strives to go into, beyond, and beneath the outer appearance of her subjects. “I’m not only seeing the surface beauty, I’m experiencing something else. And that is what drives my work the most.”
In the late 1970s, Pearson created and exhibited fine art photography around Annapolis. In 1979, she started a business as an assignment photographer. After 20 successful years, during which she developed a national reputation for her work photographing interior spaces, gardens, and architecture, she yearned to follow her muse while continuing on her professional path. Her vision and creativity compelled her to return gradually to fine art photography, her true love.
Pearson’s process is visceral and intuitive. “Making art slows me down and hushes my busy mind,” she says, “I find more breathing room.” Within that quietude resides a transformative experience that simultaneously transports her deeper within and outside of herself. While creating and observing, she waits to feel the shift in mind and body for that moment when gut instinct compels her to press the shutter button.
Continue reading Scene Unseen.
Courtesy of UpStArt Magazine.