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Essay 132 • Feb 20th 2017

On the train from Milan to Corniglia; looking out and looking down. At my feet and out the window. Scenes pass by like moments from a drunken evening. Blurry and uninterrupted.

I spend the next six days eating only flour, butter and water. Hiking hills as the sun rises over the horizon. Peeling cotton off my skin to jump into my favorite sea— where swimming is unnecessary because you bob like a cork— swaddled in salt, rocking back and forth through tired waves.

I’m forever a student of homelands, curious about where people come from and what that even means. “It’s my soil, the place I feel most like myself,” my great-grandmother told me once in her garden, clutching a hand full of Idaho dirt. She was describing her childhood, spent on the hilly border of Italy and Switzerland.

I think about my great-grandmother often here, her roma tomatoes and sliced bread. I take these photos to understand her, what she might have seen, and how her life would be different if she never left. I sit into the afternoon and watch the light bounce off apricot buildings onto healthy bodies, painterly and raw.

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Subtle and poetic, Chantal Anderson’s work is evocative of urban mythologies, both deeply sentimental and restrained. Informed by a background in journalism and inspired by the lush landscapes of her native Pacific Northwest, Anderson’s images are inherently narrative, expanding on ideas with a sculptural and inquisitive eye. She tells stories honoring the radiance of ordinary things, activating her images with an instinctual use of color, mood and tone, giving even her still images a cinematic quality.Working with both motion and stills, her work and subjects are diverse—ranging from editorial portraiture to travel reportage documentaries.  Her projects have taken her to Georgia, Eritrea, and Iceland where her she approaches subjects with humility while exploring the depths of human relationships and migration patterns.

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