Photographer Mariana Cook (born 1955) is best known for her intimate character studies of persons both in and out of the public eye, as published in her much-acclaimed collections Fathers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons, Generations of Women, Couples, Faces of Science and Mathematicians. Cook departs from her portrait work with Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries, a project that was conceived one day at her home on Martha's Vineyard, when 56 cows strayed through a crumbling section of the stone wall she shares with her neighbor. From this serendipitous moment of inspiration, Cook embarked on an eight-year journey, travelling from New England to the American South, Britain, Ireland, the Mediterranean and Peru in pursuit of dry stone walls. Far from being a conventional travelogue, these beautiful black-and-white photographs portray the wall in landscape, the wall as abstract form, and the return of rocks to nature. Cook is fascinated with the juxtaposition of stones as an instance of geometric composition, as well as with the resonance between walls of different cultures. With a tribute from Wendell Berry and essays providing a context for the walls of each region, the resulting collection captures a fundamental aspect of the relationship human beings forge with the land they inhabit.
Mariana will be speaking this October at Rocktoberfest our annual Canadian Walling Festival at the University of Toronto country conference centre, Hart House Farm in the Caledon Hills, just north of Toronto Ontario. See ROCKTOBERFEST 2011 for more details.