Once upon a time I met photographer Jim Newberry (based in LA) at a dinner party in Chicago hosted by our friend Angelique Grandone... years later, we finally had the chance to meet up in Olympia, WA and do a shoot! Jim came to Olympia some weeks ago to take photos of 1) me taking photos of butterflies with my janky phone (see here) and doing circus. The photos and article are up on Rewire.org here: How a butterfly-loving biologist learned to fly ...
text and images below!
Rewire caught up with Garcia about the intersection of her two art forms and the life path that took her airborne.
Rewire: Out of all the insects out there, why are you drawn to butterflies?
Giselle Garcia: I started taking photos of butterflies as a technician in the lab I eventually joined as a graduate student—because they are beautiful, and I had access and exposure to many points of the life cycle that one only sees with daily contact.
Later on, as my scientific studies developed, I started studying the genetics and timing of butterfly wing development, and was taking a lot of scanning electron microscope photos of the wing at various developmental points—and noticed, as many others have, how abstract and wonderful the wing is when you zoom in.
The wing color is made up of scales, and each one is just one color, so only when you zoom in do you get to see the kind of pointillist nature of the wing.
Rewire: How did you get into aerial silks?
GG: I’ve always loved moving. I think I do aerial as opposed to other forms of movement because it is quite constrained, in some ways—there are only so many ways you can get from A to B in an individual trick, so you must find the ways to make a movement your own. Physically, it is all-encompassing, which was a good complement to the nature of a Ph.D. program, which was what I was doing when I started really focusing on circus.
I also really love that you have to maintain training to do circus—you can’t leave it, or you become weak. So it requires regularity and consistency and structure. The community is also amazing. I was very lucky to be in Chicago and a part of the (Aloft Loft) community, and then to get to come back to Olympia to my original circus community. Full of amazing, amazing artists.
Rewire: How did you wind up with the assortment of interests and skills and jobs you have today?
GG: Oh, I don’t know. I wandered to and fro, and here I am! A big recent decision was coming back to Olympia from Chicago. It has taken a minute to get settled back in, but the community is so supportive and full of such wonderful people, and it is possible to make a very full life with fewer hours of work—a bubble at least partially isolated from what people think you should be doing. Or, it can be that way, for some. I’m very grateful to be back here.
Additional reporting by web editor Katie Moritz.
By Jim NewberryJim is an internationally published, award-winning photographer based in Los Angeles. His interest in photography began as a young child, when his father—James Newberry, who founded the photography department at Columbia College Chicago—gave him a camera and taught him how to use it. He later graduated from Columbia, and soon after began shooting assignments for magazines and record labels.
Jim continues to shoot for editorial and commercial clients, as well as shooting fine art photography, especially street pictures.