Week Eight: flow states

50/365: here be monsteras


The split-leaf philodendron (monstera delicious) is having a moment. Suddenly, I’m seeing their unmistakable foliage everywhere I look. I had to seek one out so I could create my very own monstera picture and was lucky enough to find one tickling the ceiling of the MN Landscape Arboretum’s sunny conservatory.

51/365: send me dead flowers


I get that Rolling Stones song in my head every time I see a dried-up blossom. Truly, though, I think these roses got more lovely as they dried and shriveled. The colors deepened and the texture took on more character. I enjoyed them fully as they faded.

52/365: on the edge of see and through


There is this moment I love when the ice begins to thaw and the snow cover is gone. The lake begins to reflect the colors of the sky again. These colors makes me feel like I’m somewhere else, in some other subarctic landscape with a different view of the tundra sun.

53/365: old black water


As much as I’ve been entranced by the ice, the sight of open water inspires a giddy feeling. This once static, frozen creek is now gushing and gurgling with life and movement. It’s the way we all feel when we cast off our layers after a long winter and feel the breeze and sunlight on our skin once more. It has an exuberance and charm that is always refreshing.

54/365: it’s all too beautiful


Open water of an entirely different nature. This one actually took my breath away! In a burst of brilliant sunlight, the wind gusts blew across growing patches of open water on Lake Nokomis creating a wave patterns I don’t recall ever seeing before. Truly stunning.

55/365: fish out of water


Sometimes I can’t resist being really cheesy. Kind of like a goldfish cracker. All I could think when I spotted this one on the sidewalk was that it looked really out of place 🙂

56/365: metamorfluxus


We’re in the period of constant flux. 60 one day. 25 the next. The water performs a trembling dance between flow and refreeze, changing forms moment to moment.

Week Seven: Theme & Variation

Follow my Instagram feed for more daily photos: https://www.instagram.com/terrarathai/

43/365: the leaves and the ice #1


The cycle of freeze and thaw creates layers of objects and air bubbles.

Moments frozen in time, yet constantly evolving.

44/365: the leaves and the ice #2


The ice itself holds fascination. So many variations. Ways and states of being.

Milky, slushy, rough, pitted. Glassy, smooth, black, fissured. Transparent or opaque.

Becoming. Shifting. Disappearing.

45/365: (power) line drawing


I’m always playing with shadows and my (not-so-secret) fantasy of being a painter. It took photography to make me truly fall in love with abstraction. Stripped of color, the subtle beauty and variation of lines, the relationships between elements is everything.

So much to see in so little.

46/365: heat seeking vision #1


Like an invitation to a nap. This blanket, folded in the afternoon sunshine reminds me of the power of something soft and cozy to soothe our chilly souls and the intense warmth that can be found in a sunny spot this time of year.

47/365: heat seeking vision #2


I’m delighted by warm colors in the landscape when the air is thin and everything is grayish. That sunshine spotlight bronzes the rusty leaves and warms our collective bones –  gaining momentum as we creep toward the vernal equinox.

48/365: things that fall on frozen lakes #1


The ice begins to thaw on the lake. Branches and leaves leave their own self-impressions as they sink in to the surface. Riddled by cracks, the vast expanse is dotted now with pock marks from so many feet and the healed-over scars of occasional ice fishing holes.

49/365: things that fall on frozen lakes #2


Softer impressions made by the long shadows of trees across a frozen pond.

It all comes full-circle. The sun and the shadows. Compositions made from the beautiful simplicity of light and line. The cycle of everything as it comes and goes and comes again.

Somehow, always new.

Week Six: fake spring and slim pickins

36/365: throw me a bone (or something)


This dried flower bunch reminded me of an animal poking its nose through the fence, looking for a handout. I feel a little like that as winter drags on…pretty sunlight today, but the drab is getting the best of me. Wishing it would snow.

37/365: the love that surrounds us


All together now: love, love, love.

It’s all we need. It will keep us together. And we’ve got to let it rule.

38/365: this and that (gingko leaf & pinecone)


There are some natural forms that ape each other or look like distant cousins. Not these two. They are utterly, unmistakably themselves.

39/365: the long and short of it


The days are getting longer. The sun, warmer. Part of what I love about living in a four-season climate is the anticipation and the agony. There is always something changing and something to look forward to. The boredom with the long winter only makes the glory of spring that much sweeter. And in the heat of summer, I sometimes dream of snow.

40/365: micro/macro cosmos


This is, without a doubt, my favorite image of the week. It speaks of timeless questions and boundless imagination. The vast and invisible. Time. Space. Energy. Metamorphosis.

41/365: festive/false


I hate to be a downer but this heat wave is alarming.

Sure, it feels good to wear a t-shirt in February in Minnesota. But. on the other hand, what does it mean? Anomaly or undeniable evidence (as if we need more)?

Furthermore, I like winter…

42/365: don’t be fooled


In the short term, I’m concerned for the flora. Too many warm days in a stretch send the wrong signals. I’d hate to see the plants wake up too soon, only to freeze in the inevitable March snow.

It’s nice to feel warm again, but I’ll happily wait until spring, for spring.

Week Five: never lose hope

29/365: wipeout


We finally got Sawyer and Zola out for their first ski lessons! They did great. Most of my pictures were boring snapshots of my kids making it down the hill. But this kid took a spectacular tumble at the bottom of the hill, giving me my favorite shot of the day. Of course he was undaunted and bounced back up for another run.

30/265: magnolia buds


Hope springs eternal. One of these days (and it won’t be long) there will be flowers again!

31/365: a time to sow


Milkweed is springing up in gardens all over the city. I’m encouraged by these efforts to help the monarchs and reminded of the collective power of our small, individual actions. Instead of wringing our hands, why not use them to plant seeds of change?

32/365: domestic jungle


Part of the ongoing ‘Peeping Terra’ series – photographs of other people’s windows. The light is so dramatic, I can’t resist! I find windows intriguing, too. In this liminal space, both public and private, what do we choose to conceal/reveal to the world?

33/365: basking/biding


This garden hose basking in the sun reminds me so much of a snake – body coiled, conserving energy until the moment of action arrives. I’ve been observing the steadfast quiescence of all things (objects & beings alike) in these dormant winter days, sensing energy stirring in anticipation as the sun begins to warm our skins once again.

34/365: like a hawk


I’m not a wildlife photographer and I don’t have a seriously long lens so when I have a picture like this it means I was REALLY CLOSE to this hawk! As I recall, I was griping about how ugly winter gets when there is no fresh snow and feeling grumpy about looking at the same old things and then this guy showed up. You just never know…

35/365: what so proudly we hailed


Zola’s after-school choir had the honor of singing the national anthem at the Timberwolves game the other night. All those fresh earnest faces and wide open hearts, so tiny at center court amid the basketball giants. Our hearts swelled with pride and, yes, HOPE.

Week Four: Land of the Ice & Snow

22/365: ice-cycle


This winter, in particular, has been a never-ending cycle of freeze and thaw. This weather is somewhat troubling and often frustrating. Tough to ski, skate and snow when it’s raining. But, it does create an interesting mix of sculptural forms: objects encased in ice, dangling droplets and reflective puddles like this one on top of Minnehaha Creek.

23/365: still life with silk daisies


One to add to my series of silk flower still lives viewed through windows. There is a magic that happens with the light that falls on objects just inside the window pane. It drops off dramatically, creating a perfectly black background like an old Dutch painting.

See also: Silk & Sunlight, Old Masters, and Something Old, Something New.

24/365: old news


All the new news is so horrifying these days. Every headline evokes an, “Oh, God, what now?” response in my head. Old news seems so much easier. The answers are there. We can’t do anything to change what happened. And we know that we survived it all…

25/365: prairie snow


The prairie flowers are an endless delight to me. They are particularly charming wearing their fresh caps of snow, all waving to me in unison as they sway in the winter wind.

26/265: dreamcatcher


Found art on our walk along the creek: a dreamcatcher woven in nylon string and hooped to an overhanging tree branch. With threads echoing the lines of the branches below, the web is poised to catch every passing wind, inviting the sweetest dreams to settle in among us.

27/365: brad’s-eye view


The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are held every year in our neighborhood, just blocks away on Lake Nokomis. This year we enjoyed traversing the frozen lake to soak up the fresh air and true hockey spirit at the heart of Minnesota culture.

At 6’4, Brad typically has the best view of the action. But I get the best view of him.

28/365: game day


The second day at the tournament was overcast and gray but no less festive.

I have no skill for capturing the fast action of live sports but I do have a habit of photographing the photographers wherever I go.


Week Three: shadows, soup & surprises

15/365: self portrait silhouette


Caving to the irresistible urge to capture my own likeness in any shadow, reflection, or slice of a dull moment. It’s a subject that’s always available. When in doubt, self portrait.

16/365: peekaboo (allium seeds under snow)


As the snow melts, hidden treasures are revealed. This dried allium head appeared to have melted a tiny window around itself in order to have a look around.

17/365: evergreen


A contrast to the stark bare skeletons of the deciduous trees, this wall of juniper is like an arctic jungle teeming with writhing green vines. Green is a magnet to the winter eye.

18/365: shadow play part two: organic


The starkness of winter pairs well with the blinding sun, creating crisp, clean shadows all around. I love the visual echoes.The way the shadow imitates and distorts the original shape to make its own mark, stealing like an artist.

*Recommended Book: Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon.

19/365: shadow play part three: industrial


The empty bike rack near the beach formed geometric patterns of bricks and undulating steel in the January sunshine. All around the icy lake, the souvenirs of summer beckoned.

20/365: Soup for Andy


Totally random find. A can of Campbell’s tomato soup sitting on an empty bus bench. About 2/3 full…Couldn’t fathom the how/why of it but it made me want a grilled cheese with a cup of soup. And I can’t see a can of Campbell’s without thinking of Warhol.

21/365: eagle’s lunch


Another lucky find…these bald eagles were in full view. The juvenile was just hanging out but the adult was enjoying tearing apart the flesh of whatever vermin it grabbed for lunch.

When I was growing up, I never saw an eagle. Now it’s almost commonplace. It gladdens my heart and give me hope for other creatures to see how this species has rebounded.

And no matter how many eagles I see, I am always wowed.

Week Two: winter light

8/365: gathering


We followed the winding path into the darkness, braced against the frigid wind. Coming upon Munro’s installations of light and sound was like stumbling into an enchanted forest or sacred clearing.

Anything that lights up a winter night and sparks such a profound sense of wonder is well worth a little cold.

Bruce Munro, Winter Light at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

9/365: no place like home


I’m not much of an angler but I feel a sense of north country pride at the sight of the ice fishing houses on the lake. The practice is quintessential Minnesota hearty.

And the house is actually a luxury! Some days you see people just sitting out on the open, care ice, perched on a 5-gallon bucket. I admire the dedication to winter activities & the determination to get outside – no matter what. But I’d want the house.

10/365: waiting in the wings


Sometimes when I’m out walking, I take note of all the things – not just plants & animals – that are in a state of dormancy or hibernation. The effect of waiting it out seems even more pronounced and poignant when the items are blanketed by snow.

11/365: stars of tomorrow


The plants that produce and hold their buds all winter so as to be ready at the first blush of spring…I love those guys! We planted a magnolia last spring – I’m heartened every time I pass by and see those furry buds quivering in the arctic winds. The azaleas, too, are steadfast in their determination to shine at the slightest gust of balmy breezes.

12/365: where you least expect it


Thursday my mom & I went to see the Martin Luther exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a collection of art, documents and artifacts – many that had never been out of Germany before.

This odd-looking object was maybe the biggest surprise and stuck in my mind’s eye. It’s the type of hood/mask the doctor would wear to protect himself against infection when calling on plague victims. Imagine this wild, dark visage arriving to care for you in the throws of your illness! Dark ages indeed.

13/365: what you see


One game I play this time of year is a search for color in the landscape. Turns out, if you’re looking for it (like so many things in life) there is is. The rust-colored leaves that cling to the oaks, the many shades of evergreen, the subtle taupe of dried prairie stems, the silver-gray of the Russian and prairie sages. And then, of course, there’s the sky…

14/365: no shadows without light


The sunshine tells a story of darkness & light through shadows against the bright, white ground of snow. I can’t get enough of these painterly silhouettes, the graphic appeal of black on white, and the dramatic elongation of winter shadows in a northern clime.

New Year, New Work

Hi there. Remember me? It’s been over a year since I posted to the blog. Yikes. It’s good to be back!

Last year was not a creative year for me. I intend to change that in 2017. I’ve realized that I make my best work when I commit to the daily photos. It is time consuming, challenging and often grueling to get out every day and see something new in the same old stuff but, then, that’s kind of my jam…

I have some new ideas to explore on the blog this year but for now, I’d like to share the first week of daily photos. Also, if you’re interested in seeing outtakes and other new work as it emerges, please follow my brand new Instagram feed at @avantgardenstudio.

1/365: caught between


A trip to Lake Nokomis on New Year’s Day led to the discovery of a double layer of ice with water, air bubbles & objects trapped in between. Everything is in flux. Sometimes we’re caught in between, a fitting expression for this moment when old passes into new.

2/365: instance of hygge


Hygge is having a moment. A Danish concept that connotes a cozy state of mind  (pronounced hyoo-gah), hygge is readymade for Minnesota winters. Or vice versa.

I’ve been working to embrace the coziness of winter. Wool socks and warm blankets, hot tea, plenty of candles. All good things. I’m not one to hate on winter but sometimes I need a little help keeping my spirits bright…

On this particular January day, I was heartened by the reflection of lamplight amidst the raindrops trickling down my window pane.

For a good intro to hygge, check out this recent article from The Kitchn:

What is Hygge and How Do You Pronounce It?

3/365: the winter garden




There is beauty to be found in the winter garden, no doubt. Seeing it, however, can require a very liberal definition of beauty and a wide open mind.

4/365: willow leaves


I have always loved willow trees for their dancing forms but only recently started to appreciate the simple form of the leaves. While brilliant in season, the subtle colors of the leaves in winter is pure poetry against a canvas of freshly fallen snow.

5/365: crack


This snow-filled crack after a fine overnight dusting reminded me of the Japanese art of Kintsugi – mending broken pottery with a golden lacquer to highlight the cracks. An expression of wabi sabi, this art form highlights the beauty of experience and imperfection of old or broken things.

Imagine seeing our cracks as something to be celebrated instead of mended or hidden.


6/365: fallen sentry


These fragile stems are the last ones standing at the garden’s edge. It takes true fortitude to withstand the winter winds. Their postures and contortions look to me like bent & weary bodies hanging on to what little strength they have left, fighting to avoid the fate of their fallen comrade.

7/365: finding light


Photography can be all about capturing the beauty of light. But not winter photography. In the thin gray light of January, it’s all about making do. Some days the craving for golden reflections can only be satisfied indoors.

mirror, mirror

281/365: self portrait with mirrors


My inaugural blog post was a self portrait. During my first 365 project in 2010, the distorted self portrait was one of my favorite subjects (selfies weren’t quite de rigueur yet). My interest in taking these photos dropped off somewhat but Sunday, in the bright autumn sun and the dazzle of art at Franconia Sculpture Park, my mirrored sunglasses were too much fun to ignore…you can’t see much of me, but you can get a sense: I’m a hat girl and I shoot Canon 🙂

simply irresistible

280/365: pink clouds over Crex Meadows

blog101115_sunset over CREX

Photographs of sunsets are certainly ubiquitous. But, sometimes, the sight is so unbelievably beautiful, I can’t resist. True, there were sandhill cranes clucking all around, but in this one moment, the swirly pink clouds had me spellbound.