FIRST PLACE- MARA ZASLOVE, "Returning to the Earth"
L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE-  MARA ZASLOVE, "Returning to the Earth"


Lori Pond-
"When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement." MARY OLIVER

"Mara Zaslove's photograph of a nude, elderly woman half-dissolved with plants and flowers makes me think of Mary Oliver's poem, "When Death Comes." The poem demonstrates so well what the viewer sees in the photograph: a person not resigned to death, but rather comforted by it, knowing she lived a full life. The impermanence of all things is also explored in this image when looking at the model's transparent body.  When I look at this image, I wonder: Is she already gone? Has she melded with the plants and flowers? Are the plants and flowers gone, too?"

Ellen Friedlander-
"Mara Zaslove's photograph "Returning to the Earth" is a profound exploration of the human condition that left me emotionally stirred and deeply reflective. While more literal than many submissions, its raw honesty and unflinching portrayal of life's journey are undeniably compelling. There's a palpable bravery in the way Zaslove confronts the viewer with the inevitability of mortality, yet amidst this stark reality, there lies a resounding beauty that is both captivating and haunting. Each layer of the photograph serves as a metaphor for the layers of existence, echoing the complexity and fragility of life itself. The interplay of light and shadow not only signifies the passage of time but also underscores the transient nature of our existence. Through this composition, Zaslove invites us to confront our own mortality and contemplate the intricate dance between growth and decay. “Returning to the Earth” resonates long after the initial encounter, encapsulating the essence of the human experience with profound depth and poignancy."

Additional Juror Review by Carl Shubs-
"For me, this image portrays the fragility of life, beyond the common idealizations and tropes of wisdom, good judgment, valued experience, and worthy of being venerated for their various hoods: godhood, goddesshood, sagehood, etc..  Those are all attributes we will have left behind, if we had them and shared them with others.  And it also conveys what lies ahead, “Returning to the Earth,” dust to dust.  Well done."

Jurors Ellen Friedlander and Lori Pond ask Mara Zaslove:
"How did you originally convince your friend Ingeborg to pose nude?"

Zaslove says, "Our 2nd shoot took place in a friend’s backyard.  Out of the blue, Inge asked if she could take off her clothes.  This request caught me by surprise, but I was delighted with this unique opportunity. Initially, Inge’s movements were spontaneous and candid.  As we worked together, a collaboration evolved with both of us being open to each other’s suggestions."
Friedllander/Pond ask, "How did Ingeborg feel about doing this shoot? How emotional was it for you both?"
Zaslove say, "Inge seemed totally at ease with disrobing and was completely comfortable with her nudity as was I. The fact that our friendship and collaboration was at its inception did not interfere with how relaxed we both were in each other’s presence.  Her nakedness and fluidity when ‘dancing’ around the yard was a joyful experience for us both."
Friedlander/Pond say, "Have your feelings about death and dying changed since you did this project?"

Zaslove says, "This is an interesting question and one that I have thought about while creating this series. Early on in my life, I was unexpectedly confronted with a life-threatening illness. I faced it head on and was fortunate to have it arrested.  I have always felt like a survivor no matter what the obstacle and this attitude has carried me through many difficult experiences. My positive attitude and appreciation of the beauty in the world also happens to mirror Inge’s lust for life.  Having Inge as a mentor through this inevitable aging process has buoyed me.

I have never taken life for granted and this project has only solidified how I feel about death and dying. I find that it is critical to accept the various stages of life by adapting rather than resisting the inevitability of death. While acknowledging the fragility of life, embracing each moment allows me to deeply appreciate the time that I have left."

Zaslove elaborates on her project: The images in 'Cycle of Life'' are from a project that I have been working on for the past 10 years with my muse, Inge. We met in a Chi Gong class and after some time, I approached her, asking if she would collaborate with me. During this process, we have become very close friends. Documenting how gracefully she has aged has been a highlight of my photographic career. These six images illustrate a type of chronological order of her journey from her youth to 95 years old."
Mara Zaslove is a fine art photographer who thrives on creating visual conversations that embrace the diversity of the human spirit, the universality of aging and the beauty of the natural world. 
She received a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and later, a Teaching Credential at U.C.L.A.  After completing her MA in Counseling and Guidance from California State, Northridge, she became a Licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist.
Her background as a therapist informs her photographic work and brings a heightened sensitivity to how she perceives the world. It also assisted her in developing coursework to teach photography to typical and special needs children at a variety of institutions. Mara has acted as a volunteer photographer for the Inner-City Arts program as well as the Donna Sternberg Dance Company.  She also served as the Staff Photographer for Diavolo, an internationally renowned dance company based in Los Angeles.
Her photographs have been exhibited in juried group shows both nationally and internationally in such venues as Los Angeles Center for Photography, Gallery 825 (LAAA), Photo LA, Griffin Museum and the SC Center for Photography as well as other venues around the world. 
Image for Sale-
Returning to the Earth - 11"W x 14"W
Archival Paper
$350 unframed
Limited edition of 12
Signed on back