Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Part 9

We conclude our presentation of Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity" with today's installment of the series she produced for Exxplorevision, an Instagram community dedicated to promoting the work of women photographers. Kass and her husband Eric, both known for their distinctive style of photographing daily life, will be teaching a creative photography workshop in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala in February 2018. Our accommodations and studio space will be at Posada de Santiago, and we will visit many of the villages around Lake Atitlan, a place that has entranced the Menchers for years. This workshop is filling and is expected to sell out. We are offering an early sign-up discount until September 30. For more information about the workshop, including an extensive gallery of photos by Eric and Kass, and to register, please visit the workshop page here: http://www.seekworkshops.com/select-workshop/lake-atitlan-guatemala-mencher

Thank you, Kass, for sharing your words and photos.


dawn chorus singing
imprint of a bird in the sky
it's the era of ether

As I've written previously, I've been to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, nine times in the past seven years, usually for 2-4 months each visit. Originally the plan was to come only once. Obviously that is not what happened. 

There is a Mayan myth about a magic ring that was thrown into the middle of the lake. The ring was imbued with the power to attract and that is why so many people come once and stay, or in my case, keep returning time and again.
Others say there are 3 major energy vortexes that also have the power of attraction: the Pyramids at Giza, Machu Pichu in Peru, and Lake Atitlán.

I like the myth about the magic ring, but hey, that's me. I believe in magic. But whatever the cause there is no doubt that I am under the spell of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.

Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Parts 5 & 6

We are happy to publish the third part of the project Kass Mencher completed earlier this year on  Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for @exxplorevision, an Instagram community that promotes the work of women photographers. Kass and her husband Eric Mencher will lead a workshop in Santiago Atitlan from February 18-23, 2018. --Andrew Sullivan

Photos and text courtesy of Kass Mencher


boat becomes volcano
volcano clouds
clouds sky
all becomes light
In wisdom cultures the artist acts as a shaman or shapeshifter. He or she is someone who walks between worlds.
Antonio Ramirez Sosóf an indigenous, Tz'utuzil was a shapeshifter. A lumberjack for 30 years, he gave it up when the time of "La Violencia" began in Guatemala--it would have been certain death for him to appear alone in the forest. And Antonio was about life. He became a woodcarver instead, learning to listen to the whispers of the wood, whispering to him what it wanted to be. When his back and shoulder wore out he had a vision of becoming a painter using needle and thread.

Many of his vividly embroidered pieces hang in the restaurant at the Posada de Santiago in Santiago. They depict his world, the sacred and the profane, the waking and the dream one all in one frame. I suspect that to Antonio Ramirez Sosóf it was all real. It was all good.

Near the end of his long life he lost his sight but not his smile. Perhaps he already knew his vision would live on.



wrapped in herstory
in shades of blue
moonlight's descendent
Meditation on Blue
Blue is the color of the spirit. It is the color of water and sky. It is the world's favorite color.
The Maya have their own blue, Maya Blue.
Due to its indestructibility it is considered to be one of the great artistic and technological advances to come out of Meso-America.

It is the color of clear skies in the dry season. And it is the rain god Chaac's favorite color. At the "Well of Sacrifice" in the northern Yucatan, a lot of pottery and at least 127 humans, mostly male, all painstakingly painted Maya Blue, perished in order to woo some rain out of Chaac.
Centuries later different sacrifices were made. Indigo known as the "king of dyes" led to many indigenous dying for the King of Spain. Others made fortunes satisfying the royal appetite. But the people on the plantations were paid 1 peso every 20 days and the unpaid factory workers paid with their lives, lucky to live 7 more years.

Most of the women in San Antonio Palopo still wear traje, traditional dress. This includes a hair ribbon (cinta), blouse (huipil), sash (faja), shawl ( rebozo), and a skirt (corte). The whole ensemble can cost $250 dollars and the blouse can take up to 6 months of labor. Each village has different colors. San Antonio's use shades of blue with vertical stripes. But traje is so much more than a personal expression. It is a story of their life, and their history. It is a testament to their perseverance in the face of unrelenting adversity. And like the color, Maya Blue, the indigenous women of Guatemala are indestructible and continue to dazzle despite it all. 

Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Parts 3 & 4

Today we bring you the next installment in the project Kass Mencher completed earlier this year on her perceptions of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for @exxplorevision, an Instagram community that promotes the work of women photographers. Kass and her husband Eric Mencher will lead a workshop in Santiago Atitlan in February. --Andrew Sullivan

All photos and text below courtesy of Kass Mencher.




At the lake, Lake Atitlán, you learn quickly that you are not the masters. And that you will do well to observe the rhythms of mother nature. She will richly award you with an abundance of time. There will be time enough to watch a dog frolic in the lake. You will have plenty of time to marvel as a duck bobs for lunch-time minnows and then struggles to scale the highest tree stump to be closer to the sun. You will even have 40 minutes on a Friday night to watch regimental columns of ants march away the dead carcass of a scorpion. At the lake, Lake Atitlán, there is time enough to watch, to wonder and to learn - to learn there is another way.



soft blanket sky
cover lullaby lake
cradle boat rocks
in 6/8 time
this morning
among mountains
and mist

While I am here
fears that follow
beneath forever skies
in the crossing
of an ancient lake
beside a fire and
brimstone volcano
in the night light
light years away
fears that fallow
While I am here


Kass Mencher's "Fixed in Eternity," Parts 1 & 2

During her long visits to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala over the past eight years Kass Mencher has deepened her connection to this mystical place. She completed a body of work earlier this year on her relationship with Lake Atitlan for @exxplorevision, an Instagram community that promotes the work of women photographers. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share the photographs and writing that Kass produced for that project. Thanks for following along. -Andrew Sullivan

All photos and text below courtesy of Kass Mencher.


feeding the goddess

she rises from the ashes

to dance away fear

Located in the Guatemalan highlands, Lake Atitlán was called too much of a good thing by writer Aldous Huxley. Atitlán means the place where the rainbow comes to get its color. And it's true: the fruits, the flowers, the textiles are rich in multicolored hues that combine to form rainbows of uncommon beauty. But be wary of color. It can be intoxicating. It can seduce, deceive and conceal the true nature of a thing. When at Lake Atitlán I am compelled to make images about what is sensed but not necessarily seen.

The Maya believe Lake Atitlán is a sacred, living being harboring the world's navel within its depths. Its unsnipped umbilical cord holding the sky and the earth together. It is a spiritual and healing center attracting people from afar today as it has done since at least 300 B.C.



boat dock meets park bench
he sits - fishing
i sit - doing yoga
he moves with a grace
i can only dream of
i'm mesmerized by the music
in his hands
as he casts out his line
just when i think
to pick up my phone
he stands
his profile a silhouette in stillness
before he turns slowly from the hips
stopping when his chest faces forward
fierce proud defiant fearless
balancing on the edge of infinity
he waits
a muelle matador carved out of shadow
i pick up my phone
our worlds intersect
in 1/250th of a second
he returns to fishing
i return to yoga
i can't help but feel
something has changed