Thursday, April 1, 2010

Murad Sayen and The Gift of Light

"In nature lies the true source of all beauty and enlightenment. Everything else is merely alluding back to that wellspring."
~ Murad Sayen

This past Sunday, my friends, Abby and Murad, came for a visit. They live about an hour or so away from where I'm staying. I've written about our friendship in previous posts and also about their two beautiful and very empathic golden retrievers. I first met them when I was an art consultant for a gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Murad was one of the artists the gallery represented and we struck up a friendship. When they visited Santa Fe in the fall of 2008, I met them both in person for the first time. Abby and I immediately recognized our connection and felt like long lost sisters who were finally reunited. We have spent many an afternoon or evening talking, laughing, and whipping up some fine meals in her kitchen. She is an excellent cook (not to mention a wonderful massage therapist) and so I was a bit nervous about having them for lunch at my place. But, not to worry among friends such as these. We walked on the beach with Emma and Holly, the golden girls, and looked for the perfect clam shell to serve as Murad's pipe smoking ashtray. We found more than one that seemed well-suited. It was cool and a bit windy, but being on the beach, watching the dogs enjoy their outing, was so nice.

Then we sat down to a lunch of lightly spiced, sauteed veggies alongside a bed of polenta, which was topped with bits of tomato and gorgonzola cheese. I'd found a wonderful garlic infused hummus at the New Morning natural food store. It worked well with the four-cheese bread. We had a few small stuffed mushrooms to, aah, cap it off. I scored dessert from the glass counter at Whole Foods in Portland - small chocolate covered cheesecakes garnished with an itty-bitty dollop of whipped cream and a filigree of chocolate. We were bad. It was good. Add a cup of Green Mountain Coffee and it made for a nice time of after-dinner conversation as we looked out on the ocean from my kitchen table. We spent a quiet, very peaceful afternoon talking about art and life and cooking and all the things friends talk about. I'm so grateful for their friendship.

Note: I have saved ninety-eight letters from my mother. Most of them contain a description of her menu for dinner that day. She loved eating and talking about food. I have become my mother. This is a good thing.

I'm blessed to know some truly fine artists, people who see the beauty of this world and strive every day to share their vision with us. Murad is one of them. Whether it's through the lens of his camera or the wielding of his paintbrush, he captures the light, sublime moment after sublime moment. I have included images of his oil paintings in previous posts. But, as a way to balance the persistent rain of the last three days, it seems like the perfect opportunity to share his photography.

Murad once served as facilitator for groups supporting people with serious and chronic, life-threatening illnesses. He states, "It became evident that these folks needed opportunities to simply relax, to just let go of all the daunting circumstances in their lives and go inward." He began sharing a slide show of his photographs with them, accompanied by music. It evolved into an amazing piece of film called, "A Gift of Light;" beautiful images, set to soothing music, dissolving into each other. The first time I watched it, quietly, by myself in a darkened room, I fell into spontaneous tears about halfway through. I had no explanation for this, but the tears it brought on felt cathartic. I shared this with him later and he said that it's a common reaction. People seem to feel a profound sense of release that remains inexplicable. Its format does not allow me to include it here, but I'd like to share some of his images with you. They range from a full scene to vignettes found on the forest floor as he walks through the Maine woods keeping an eye out for the light and what nature has to offer us.

Murad also photographs urban landscapes with that same eye for light. They sometimes include solitary figures set against a background of brick and glass, walking through their neighborhoods as they go about their lives. He has referred to at least one of these characters as a "stranger in a strange land," taken from the classic book of the same title by Robert Heinlein (if you haven't yet read this book, you might find it interesting and just as relevant today as it was in the 1960's).

These photographs tell a story about our lives. Many people feel a sense of isolation even among the familiar. We are all struggling to find connections, a sense of community, especially in what feels like turbulent times.

                                    Shaker Meeting House

I love this big beauty he found holding court on the corner of a street. I especially love the wet pavement and the clouds.

Sometimes, it's all about the clouds...

 But, always, without exception, it's about the light...

It's his photographs of nature that sing for me, that call me to that place I feel most at home. Together they form an amazing body of work. Understanding and sharing the essence of life found in nature through his lens, his eye, is the ultimate gift, this gift of Light. I have been blessed by them. And by the gift of a peaceful Sunday afternoon with good friends.

All of the photographs found in the body of this post were taken by Murad. By clicking on each individual photograph you can enjoy an enlarged version. He has had more than one book of his photographs published. Maine: The Home Place, published by University Press of New England, can still be found at Amazon. The most recent is a self-published book of his photographs and paintings, which can be found at

P.S. As I finished writing this, the sun came out. We now have glorious blue skies and the sunlight glinting off the water is inviting me down for a visit...


  1. Oh my, these are all just breathtaking photos, Teresa E. I clicked on each of them. The 3rd from the last photo looks to me like a reflection of the trees in water. Is that what that is? What an incredibly talented photographer!

  2. Cheryl's right, all breathtaking! I followed your suggestion and enlarged each. Wow! Amazing. I can see why Muyrad's published. He's extremely talented. I couldn't decide which appealed more, tho, but finally decided upon the leaves in the water...and the farm scene with the bright green grass. You are blessed to have such lovely and talented friends.

  3. What a pleasure, your words and his photos!

  4. What a blessing Murad is! Light in photography is so important; I'm trying to pay more attention to that as I expand my knowledge of photography. He is lucky to be surrounded by such beauty. I'm off to enjoy each individual photo in the larger version. :)

  5. Teresa: What a beautiful posting of Murad's photographs and your comments. Walking on the beach with the dogs sounds so relaxing. That you have letters of your mother is so significant. I value my letters of the family so much that I sometimes think I am going to get a fireproof safe and store them lest a disaster take them away. Your stay there seems to get better every day. --Jack.

  6. Oh, I can't tell you how much I love these photos! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  7. Thank you all for reading and commenting. I'm so glad you've enjoyed seeing his photographs. It was a pleasure writing this post.

    Cheryl, it is a reflection of the trees on the water. Isn't it wonderful?

    Jack, Yes, family letters are definitely some of my personal treasures. Life is good.

  8. Murad's work is absolutely enthralling. He is incredibly talented. I respect the artistry of photography all the more because I'm so bad at it. So, feed him well, Teresa!

  9. Oh my. Without seeing the video, these photos open the door to understanding the emotional reaction to it. I love Murad's quote and that sharing of what he sees in the world with us. Don't you love life's twists, turns and folds? Who you meet along the way to share it's mysteries. Your Abby, Murad and the golden girls. Sleeping will be more restful tonight having read this post and enjoyed the light.
    Stranger in a Strange Land, it might be time for a re-read.

  10. Chris, thank you so much for all of your comments on my recent posts. I do love life's twists and turns. It's these surprises that make life so interesting...