Love Flash Art

self portrait circa 1991 #beforeselfies 🤣#barbedwire #crosscolor #blackphotographer #soloshow #portraiture #queerphotographer #queerwomen 💕👊🏽💕#reclaimingmytime ✅
Lola Flash, self portrait circa 1991. (Retrieved from Lola Flash’s Instagram account Flash9)

 

Last night I heard the photographer Lola Flash speak with the founders of Women Picturing Revolution. Flash is enjoying a new found, well-deserved success at 59 years old, 40 years into her career. Flash is also a public school teacher, and this career has run parallel to her work as an artist. I say parallel because it doesn’t seem that the photography she creates is directly related to her teaching, though she does describe many ways in which the things she’s learned as a teacher have driven her methods as an artist.

I asked her how she did this. She is so dedicated to teaching, She is such a thorough, meticulous, careful artist. How can one person be both, without letting the two careers overlap? (I would be less incredulous if she were, say, a photographer of issues pertaining to education). She said it is hard. She said that she is very careful about planning and using her transition time: for example, she went to the gym and swam after school yesterday, before coming to the talk, and “left the kids in the pool.” She also said that she is single.

I am a teacher. I want to be an artist. I am also in love, and this love is my great work of the moment: growing the love, deepening it, cultivating it to stand on its own, to breathe without our constant attention. We want our love to be joyful and liberating, not archaic, heavy, not suffocating. Light love is work. It is luck and work. It is health and luck and work, like art. Is love art?

Is love necessary? Is art necessary? Teaching is necessary, I have no question about that. Nor do I have any questions about the necessity of love. And I know that Lola Flash has lots of love because to see her is to love her, and she is so committed to her work, her art, which is love.

 

It Takes 2 to Make a Thing Go Right

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At noon on a chilly Monday, the line was shorter than she had expected. Though the nylon dividers were set up for a much larger crowd, the only people who stood between Carol and the metal detector were making up a large, boisterous wedding party. Several of the women in the group wore glittering pink dresses and high sandals. The door to the street was propped open, and the women clutched woolen scarfs around their shoulders. One by one, they had to revealed the thin straps and open backs of their gowns as they passed through security.

“Brr. They look beautiful, but cold!” Carol was wearing jeans and a bulky green sweater beneath her jacket.

Carlos was squinting at the pricing board. “It’s only $35. Wait, who’s going to pay?”

“We can use a credit card, don’t worry.” Carol avoided the question. She thought he should pay. It would add a little romance to this otherwise dry business.

The officer cheerfully ignored the loud beep that went off as she passed through the metal detector. On the other side, a handsome man sitting behind a desk smiled widely.

“Marriage license?”

“Oh no, we’re just getting a Domestic Partnership.”

Carlos came up beside her as the handsome man handed her a number. A11.

“Your ID, please.”

“Do you need mine, too?” Carol asked.

“Well, it takes two to make a thing go right,” he grinned again. Was everyone always so happy at City Hall?

Carlos and Carol walked into the yellow light of the hall. Around them, smiling couples prepared for their entry into legal coupledom. And though a Domestic Partnership could be dissolved easily for a small fee, many of these couples were preparing to brave the far more legally precarious slopes of marriage.

Now serving A11 at counter 10.

Carol followed Carlos to their summons, she paused at the entrance of the dingy chapel. Glittering bridesmaids were lining up for a procession in the cramped space, attempting, with their ceremony and beauty, to conjure a dream wedding atmosphere. A dream wedding at City Hall. Carlos pulled Carol’s hand and she wished them luck, following in her own small procession to the bureaucratic desk of the City Hall clerk.