An image from Harpswell photographer Cate Wnek’s “Reverie” series. (CATE WNEK PHOTO)
“I think there has always been a writer in me,” Cate Wnek says, “but it was photography that took me on a nosedive into the pursuit of my creative curiosity.” As the mother of two boys, Cate began photographing them playing on the floor as babies. Her exploration of photography grew into a daily practice of making art. “I found writing to be an access point to my intuition when I was tapped out visually,” she says.
Although poetry and photography stand as distinct pursuits for her, Cate often finds connections between the two. “Sometimes I ‘write it out’ to make sense of my (photographic) images, since they are usually ahead of my thinking, coming at me like a message I need to decode.” She names vulnerability, fear, groundlessness, synchronicity and resonance as themes in her work, all of which she believes are embedded in the sphere of creativity itself. “Dipping into the unknown in my art has made the uncertainties in life easier,” she acknowledges.
Cate grew up in Virginia and came to Maine to attend Colby College, where she met her husband, Chris. They live in Harpswell, where Chris grew up. Cate is influenced photographically by the work of Sally Mann and Rinko Kawauchi and has recently been exploring the poetry of Ocean Vuong. Her photos have been selected as finalists in the LensCulture Art Photography Awards and Critical Mass. She has also taught photography workshops.
“The creative process is the means by which I process the jagged journey of life and motherhood — the wondrous beauty and the aching impermanence,” Cate says. “Root Down” walks the reader through this impermanence, weaving the images of trees in drought with the consumptive power of fire, a terminus with the implied potential of standing back up, beginning again.
To see more of Cate’s work and learn about workshop opportunities, visit catewnek.com.
An image from Cate Wnek’s “Reverie” series. (CATE WNEK PHOTO)
forests bear witness
like mothers, trees see
razing, drought —
stop gaps fail
brittle with drying
a jungle gym
— no pulse —
fires waves roll
— pungent —
Turning to the Sun
down to me
jaw slacks —
and in —
“Poems from Home” curator Kara Douglas is a writer and yoga teacher who lives in Harpswell with her husband and two daughters. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.