BIOGRAPHY: Born in Buffalo, New York
I grew up on Grand Island, which sits in the middle of the Niagara River between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Beyond the far bank of the river the sun descended over Canada each evening. I had four miles of woods behind me to play in, a large gully beside me for sledding in the winter, and the mist of the Falls barely visible roughly six miles downstream. My psychologist friends will no doubt delight in my childhood dream of the island breaking loose from its moorings and floating irreversibly down stream, as I awaited the horrendous end game. I'm also the only person you'll meet from Buffalo who is twisted enough to recall winter as their favorite season, but we sledded incessantly, played pond hockey, even football in the snow, and seldom lacked a snowball in our hands. My brother, Brian, and I were certainly not prisoners of winter. I was given my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, around age 9, but didn't get into photography passionately until college at Marquette University in Milwaukee. In addition to a pair of degrees in psychology from Marquette, I picked up a stained glass hobby, and an eye for both the unusual and the unnoticed details of life, which still drive my vision behind a camera. After Marquette it was down to bayou country at LSU (Geaux Tigers!), where I reeled in a very good haul: a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and my wife, D'Lane, my soul mate and best friend for four decades. After a whirlwind romance (our kids can’t believe we married after just 12 months of dating), we both completed our psychology internships at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and enjoyed both the California spirit and the LA cultural candy shop.
We settled in the Panhandle of Florida because of job offers, as well as location. Many a Friday night were spent traveling east, south or west, with our three girls asleep in the bed in the back of our van, awaiting weekends with D’Lane’s family in Lake Charles, Louisiana, or mine in Atlanta and Sarasota. Our oldest, Lauren, finished her doctorate at Loyola University in Baltimore, and now works as a neuorpsychologist at the VA in West Virginia. We joyfully participated in her wedding to a Jersey boy of solid character but pitiful skiing talent. Their son, Teddy, is poised to soon race past JT on the slopes, with a new brother just behind him. Mikaela, a graduate of USC, is a self-employed e-commerce analyst traveling between Madrid, Austin, and Colorado with her partner, Gregg, and their sons, Jaime and Lucas. We all want our kids to surpass us, and I watch with admiration and envy as they crisscross the planet at will, plying their trades with laptops in hand, from Thailand, Bali, Austria, Argentina, or wherever strikes their fancy. Our caboose, Karyn, graduated from the UC Santa Barbara and UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, where she now practices, in the coolest city in the country. She is my sports buddy at LSU games, and finally beat me down the slopes (though not until she was 29 years old, I hasten to emphasize). We are blessed that our girls are all healthy and happy, and enjoy each other during our frequent family get-togethers.
Our careers in psychology have blessed us with an ability to help others, while exploring our fascination with the creative potential of the human mind. I particularly enjoy helping trauma victims rise from the depths of despair, to not only escape the chains of the past, but to thrive in the present. Creativity drives me elsewhere as well, particularly in photography and stained glass. But like many of my agemates, my thoughts have turned to the bigger picture later in life. In my sixties, I have spent four years researching and writing a book on secular spirituality, or spiritual atheism if you will. It’s a bit risky to come out of the spiritual closet in my profession, though I support whatever form of spirituality my clients bring to the table, and have again garnered the rewards of creative self-expression. If you are interested, check out Beyond Atheism – A Secular Approach to Spiritual, Moral, and Psychological Practices, available on Amazon. Between D'Lane, my daughters, my career as a psychologist, my writing, and my leisure pursuits in photography and stained glass, on the slopes and in Tiger Stadium, my life is filled with joy and meaning, and many outlets for creative playfulness.
Following the impulses arising from one's creative spirit is a process which fuels psychological recovery, and also drives my spontaneous detours with my camera or glass cutter in hand. In psychotherapy, you must learn to listen for the wisdom and direction that arise from within, even from dark corners, rather than discarding such unwelcome feelings into a disowned subconscious junkyard. You must also learn to access the wise, loving, and creative side of yourself to heal the most damaged parts of self. So it is when conceiving rectangles of reality, whether they be photographs or stained glass panels. Following feelings, impulses and spontaneous associations down the rabbit hole leads to inspirations which can then be tempered by the dictates of realistic and conventional thinking. My photography approaches the world from several different angles. I enjoy the distortions of reality offered by reflections, via puddles, chrome, tubas, mirrored skyscrapers, whatever. When possible, I like to invite you into an "aha" experience, where you find yourself wondering what in the world you are gazing at, but only for a few seconds, before your perplexity yields to surprise. I also enjoy the small world, the unnoticed details of life that delighted us as a children, as well as the small gems that a macro lens can bring into focus. Unusual combinations are also intriguing, whether it be a dragonfly on a string of barbed wire, a lottery billboard intruding over a graveyard, or ice-encased azaleas. Conventional shots can be beautiful or inspiring; atypical ones can be arresting, perplexing, and give you an Aha! Recently, I’ve been experimenting with “Zoomers,” explosions of abstract art created by rapidly twisting a zoom lens pointed at a colorful light source during a long exposure. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that all this photography mushroomed in just the past decade. I didn't purchase my first digital camera until April 2008, when I was about to visit Machu Picchu with D'Lane for our 30th anniversary (a maximum yield for romantic points!) Freed from the expense of developing every frame of film, I could and did experiment at will. My macro shots produced the nicest surprise of my artistic life, Best of Show for a body of work at the 2009 Southeast Regional Juried Fine Arts Show at the NWFSC Mattie Kelly Arts Center. Stained glass is a slower process, but can be built on the same process of spontaneous digression through visual detours. Dynamic designs that create movement through a stationary panel of glass are invigorating. I like to wander through the world of geodes, which have stimulated a series of portraits, with the geodes providing the eyes, ears, and mouth of the frozen glass figures staring back at me. First it was Picasso, then Katrina peering through the eye of a hurricane, then Einstein, and the darker world of Adolf.
Stained glass is far more tangible than the digital world of photography, or the abstract realm of psychological theory. If I err with glass, I bleed. Glass and photography immerse me in the visual, nicely complementing the verbal domains of psychotherapy and spirituality, though all four stir strong emotions. Hopefully, some of my creations stir you emotionally as well. Thanks for reading, viewing, and experiencing my work and playfulness. Enjoy! Ed Chandler