Moon Magic

In dreams, the magic that weaves man and animal together glows with vibrancy; there the mysteries of the natural world are plain, the connectedness of life overpowers in a true state of being in balance with the earth. The traceries of energy that link us with the animals of forest, lake and sky are alive if we are quiet enough to see them. 

~ Beth Moon

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Beth Moon, Listening To The Sky, From Thy Kingdom Come series, Platinum Palladium Print, 22 x 26 in., 2007, © and Courtesy Beth Moon.

Photographer Beth Moon demonstrates a magical and intuitive appreciation for the ways in which time, memory and nature define our understanding of man’s place in the universe. She helps us see the natural world in new ways, giving us insight into how we might be able to survive, thrive, and live more beautifully now. Her subjects are ancient and legendary trees from remote locations and the hills and coast near her home in California, and soulful animal humankind interactions in the natural world. The spirit of rooted trees, plants, and animals are wedded with their native landscapes in imagery that is both delicate and deep, leaving an indelible impression on your memory.

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 Beth Moon, Way of the Hare, From Thy Kingdom Come series, Platinum Palladium Print, 20 x 26 in., 2007, © and Courtesy Beth Moon.

Her handmade photographic works of art are as much about how Moon coaxes metal, paper, light, and mood, as they are about the subjects she studies. She creates platinum palladium prints, considered to be the longest lasting photographic process, as an homage to the longevity and survival of her subjects. A platinum print can last for centuries, much like a strong, well-tended tree. Mixing the powdered metals Moon formulates a tincture, according to her own recipe, then hand-coats sheets of heavy watercolor paper before exposing them to light in a unique process which embeds the metals in the paper. Working the materials by hand, much the way a painter would, Moon has the freedom to pursue her creative vision in process.

“It is hard to find a subject more challenging to photograph than ancient trees. How do I express their power and beauty to those who have never seen them? How do I convey this power and beauty to those who have? I want to speak the language of the trees.” ~ Beth Moon

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Beth Moon, The Yews of Wakehurst, From Portraits of Time series, © and Courtesy Beth Moon.

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Beth Moon, Dragon Blood Tree in Diksom Forest, From Portraits of Time series, © and Courtesy Beth Moon.

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Beth Moon, General Sherman, From Portraits of Time series, © and Courtesy Beth Moon.

Trees are earth’s oldest living monuments. Some, more than 5,000 years old, having figured out how to adapt and withstand changing environmental and human impacts. The oldest are usually the largest. Now known as “champion” trees, their majesty comes through in Moon’s Portraits of Time series, where Moon has photographed ancient and legendary trees, expressing their language, spirit and beauty. She records the symbolic groves of the giant Sequoias in the morning mist, the Joshua trees in the hot desert sun, the majestic, sentinel-like Baobab trees, and the ancient Yew -all of which are intricate and elegant in their simplicity of form. As our earth becomes increasingly crowded these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance reminding us, through their grandeur and age as they stand as the earth’s largest, living monuments, how essential they are to our psychology and how precious they are to the soul of the world .

Moon gains inspiration for her series “Portraits of Time”, from David Milarch and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive’s efforts to save our planet by planting ancient forests, using clones of the ancient champion trees, as portrayed in The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jim Robbins. Portraits of Time is one of five series that can be seen in Moon’s beautiful new monograph Between Earth and Sky.

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Between Earth and Sky, by Steven Brown (Author), Brooks Jensen (Author), Beth Moon (Artist), Hardcover, 96 pgs. 

Numinous and magical, the black-and-white photographs of Beth Moon celebrate nature and our relationship to it as a primary elemental experience. Moon is one of a handful of American photographers using nineteenth-century printing processes, which greatly amplify the spirit of enchantment that permeates her work. Between Earth and Sky presents five major series of works produced since 1999: Portraits of Time, which portrays ancient and legendary trees from around the world; Thy Kingdom Come, which explores animistic and totemic beliefs connecting humankind and the animal kingdom; Odin’s Cove, the story of a pair of mated ravens living in the wild; The Savage Garden, which looks at the compelling, sinister beauty of carnivorous plants; and Augurs and Soothsayers, a series of portrait-style photographs of exotic chickens. This volume is Moon’s first monograph. Raised in Wisconsin, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.