Documentary photographer, educator and photo editor Maggie Steber writes that her project “Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma” is “about the dark side of me that I have, as of late, begun to re-explore. Without meaning to make them so, these photographs reveal my fears and private memories, wrapped up, not always neatly, in my life. The photographs were done spur of the moment. I go from the gut, and the imperfection of these spontaneous moments reflects what I’m after.
“I have let loose a part of me, joyously rebelling against the tyranny of the documentary photography that has described me for decades and defined how I am perceived as an artist. I call on all the things I loved growing up: mysteries, horror films, film noir, science fiction and sensuous, forbidden ideas. I watched films by Hitchcock, Tarantino, Godard, Fellini, Buñuel and Antonioni, read Shakespeare and Eduardo Galeano and Dante’s “Inferno,” anything that smacked of the surreal, mystery, intrigue, beauty, danger, and outer space. All these ideas have convened and landed me here in the “Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma.’”
Maggie Steber’s work has appeared in major magazines, newspapers and book anthologies as well as national and international exhibitions. She has worked in 67 countries and specialized in telling the stories of underrepresented people. Best known for her photo essays in National Geographic and her book “Dancing on Fire: Photographs from Haiti” (Aperture), Steber has also worked as a picture editor for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Newsweek and as the director of photography at the Miami Herald. Her work is also included in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress.
Steber’s numerous grants and awards include a Guggenheim, a Knight Foundation award and a Pulitzer Prize, for coverage of the Elián González story in the Miami Herald.
Photography by Maggie Steber
“Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma” by Maggie Steber, exhibition opening and talk, March 20, 7 p.m., at the Half King, led by Anna Van Lenten, curator of the Half King Photography Series. The exhibition runs through April 30.