Chiarina Loggia

A printmaker's progress


Solstice – Back Into the Light

You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” J.R.R.Tolkien

As the longest night of the year stretched out before me several nights ago, I thought about how just six months ago, less than two weeks after the summer solstice, my father passed away. After a long, devastating decline from Alzeimer’s disease he was suddenly at death’s door. There had been numerous close calls over the years so I didn’t immediately get on a plane to go see him until his death looked imminent. As I waited to board my plane in Victoria that morning, I got the call that he had died in the night.

The wall of grief that hit me was surprising in its intensity. My father had been in an advanced vegetative state for a very long time and I thought I had said my goodbyes to him. I knew his eventual passing would be a bittersweet one, but the bitter far outweighed the sweet. I was happy that his spirit would no longer be trapped in his ailing body but I resented all those wasted years after he took ill and, as I sat on the plane heading eastward, I wondered about the years before. Had he lived a happy, fulfilled life? Had he felt loved? Had he said all the things he wanted to say, done the things he wanted to do? I didn’t have the answers to these questions for my father had been a guarded, taciturn man whom I never really understood. And when he died I found myself mourning for the father I never knew and the relationship we didn’t have.

 The artwork below, completed a week ago, is titled Ashes To Ashes and is dedicated to my father. The poem in it reads:

 And I’m left to mourn

You who left so long ago

Ashes to ashes

Ashes To Ashes

One thing I did know was that this controlling, fearful figure from my childhood had matured into a gentler man, one, I realized in my adulthood, who cared for me in his reserved way. And in his passing he gave me an unexpected gift.

 His death and the awful waste of the last years of his life made me examine my own. As I looked in my own mirror I determined not to waste the remainder of my life with inaction and indecision. I would take the steps I needed to take to bring peace and purpose back into my life.

 I took those steps and found myself by the end of the year living completely on my own for the very first time in my life. My marriage was ended, my last child at home had decided to strike out on her own, my in-laws left to start anew in their old town back east, even our dog decided it was time to head for new pastures. Seeing the light go out of his eyes made me grateful for having missed seeing my father die.

 So the year is ending with a loss and re-ordering of relationships. They are hard to bear but easier than the indecision that weighed down my spirit. The peace and purpose I’d hoped for still seem far away though they tickle my feet like waves along the shore. Perhaps I need to step further into the sea.


More Than A Portrait – Or how one photo shoot spawned an ‘out of comfort zone’ stampede.

Dream Lover

Fear is a wonderful sparring partner. If you tackle it head on and pin it to the ground it will give up the hidden gifts in its back pocket.

This summer the opportunity to shoot a naked male came my way. While I struggled with why I would want to include an etching of a male nude in my January show, I finally decided that the challenge of doing the shoot was reason enough, for this show is all about transparency and stepping out of my comfort zone.  I had already photographed a young woman in the spring. It was an easy shoot with a lovely but hesitant model who, over the course of the shoot, relaxed into it and grew to enjoy having her picture taken. With this shoot I was the hesitant one but Michael’s ease in front of the camera put me at ease and gave me the courage to go for the shot I was aiming for. Dream Lover, above, is what came out of it.

About the same time my good friend, Terri, was desiring to do some stepping out of her own so she asked me to take some ‘figurative’ photos of her. We headed for what we thought was a secluded outdoor location only to find that it was a thoroughfare for hikers. After her umpteenth scramble to cover up, Terri threw clothing to the wind and decided to just go with the flow. My favorite picture of that shoot is one of her perched precariously on a tree limb with head thrown back in laughter while a hiker walks away in the background. It perfectly encapsulates the fun and empowering experience that I was privileged to share with Terri that day. Below is a small etching from that shoot, entitled Make Me Warm Or Take Me Home

Make Me Warm Or Take Me Home

After this I became a woman on a mission. The fear and trepidation of shooting others gave way to a heady excitement as I decided to create portraits of people who were important in my life and/or represented important ideals and to include these in my show. I thrilled in the bonding experiences and in the pleasure of being able to give something beautiful to those who meant so much to me. My sister, Fi, gloriously happy in her seventh month of her first pregnancy became one subject. My dear friend, Jane, with her exuberant laughter and joy, became another, as did her daughter, Jaime, who was the subject of that first shoot back in the springtime. My own children both agreed to sit for me and gave me portraits full of their promise, strength and beauty. My good friend Jonathan, whose pictures of me were the catalyst for my show, let me into his private world, and Jon, the young soldier with a big heart and wicked sense of humour, allowed me to glimpse his competitive and disciplined nature. Finally, Angelica, my beautiful mother-in-law, gave me a poignant portrait of herself on the eve of her departure back East. The following etching is the one of my sister, titled Come Alive.

Come Alive

Altogether, twenty portraits have been created of ten amazing people, all of whom I am deeply grateful to for helping me wrestle the gifts out of fear’s pocket.