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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The intersect: Jane Levy Reed's cross photographs

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 9:03 pm, Thu Apr 24, 2014.

As a child of 6 or 7, photographer and filmmaker Jane Levy Reed watched the beacon of the Boston Lighthouse crossing the horizon from her family’s summer home. Ships passed in the night, making their crossing en route to their destinations. As she was lulled to sleep by the beacon in the harbor, she contemplated her own body as another line, crossing the infinite horizon. With this description, Reed opens the essay accompanying her new book Where Dreams Cross, a collection of images, shot over decades, of crosses in myriad forms. The junction where two lines meet informed her later work in photography. “It was my body forming that symbol, that space, that was my first impulse to start focusing on crosses,” Reed told Pasatiempo. “It was a quieting symbol that reached out into the world everywhere you were. It was sort of an intersection of the spirit world and the inner and outer world and the connectedness of these two points of crossing.”

The opening image in Where Dreams Cross shows the horizon far out in the Atlantic, viewed from Rockland, Maine. A wooden pylon rises up from the water, two vertical beams crossed horizontally by more beams. The cross, in one configuration or another, is the common thread in all the accompanying photographs. There are crosses formed by lines spray-painted into pavement, crosses gleaned in the forms of telephone poles, in the lines formed by cracks in rocks, dividing panes of glass in windows, and many examples of Christian crosses on the steeples of churches and in cemeteries, where they stand as grave markers. Although one can see the far-reaching influence of Christianity in the locations where Reed shot many of the photographs — including Mexico City, Florence, San Francisco, and New Mexico — they stand more as typologies, based not on religious considerations but on structure and form. “It was always more about the icon itself, the little sculptural figure I saw. The idea of two lines intersecting goes in many directions. It’s amazing where you see them. Most people see the cross as a religious icon. For me, it’s more of a universal, spiritual crossing of our lives, of our reference point in the universe, that challenges our whole notion of scale and perspective. It goes beyond the expected religious connotation and takes us to a different plane.”

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