In Our Signature Salon
"The Things We Lost"
In Memory of Newtown, Conn.
A Photography Exhibit by Anne Kohler
Peace by Anne Kohler
"The Things We Lost"
When 20 children were killed in an elementary school classroom in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012, we lost so much. I could not stop watching the news, listening to the radio, and looking at the images of families who had suddenly been torn apart. Like many Americans, I felt depressed and afraid. I was afraid to take my kids to school. For two weeks, I was mired in a feeling of helplessness. Then, my sadness turned to anger and a desire for action. The best way I knew how to have a voice in a situation that felt overwhelming and oppressive was through my art. I called the mother of Alice, the first of my photography models, and talked to her about this project. I knew that Alice’s soulful eyes would represent the vulnerability of our children and reach people’s hearts. Alice’s mom’s reaction, like the rest of the families and teachers who contributed, was enthusiastic. She was touched and relieved to have an outlet for her own anger and sadness. She wanted to be part of this collective voice of remembering, recognizing, and speaking out.
To complete this project, I photographed twenty children, of the same ages as those who died in Newtown. I also photographed six teachers. Each had a word written on their skin that expressed something we lost that day. Choosing the words was a collective effort, and each word had to resonate with the individual child or teacher. To protect the children, I did not talk about Newtown directly with them, although some knew about the tragedy. We not only lost precious lives that day, we all lost our sense of safety, our innocence, and so much more. These words needed to be “spoken.”
Twenty-six beautiful voices are now silenced. I often think that their voices are forgotten in a national dialogue dominated by special interests. This series of photos is in honor of the victims and their families. I hope that my small contribution helps refocus our dialogue on them and about what we lost as a community. With them in our hearts, it is time to take real steps to preventing this ever happening again. ~ Anne Kohler
About Anne Kohler: Anne Kohler was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she lived until fifteen years ago, when she moved to the Bay Area. Her grandfather was a lifelong photographer. As a child, she used to spend time in his darkroom, watching him develop film. In high school, he bought Anne her first camera, a Pentax K1000, and her first roll of film. In High School, she had the two years of black and white photography and spent three years running the yearbook darkroom. She fine-tuned her photography skills at San Francisco City College as an adult, but is largely self-taught.
Anne finds working with people inspirational. Her art allows her to meet new people, and bear witness to their spirits and personalities. She describes herself as “an emotional photographer,” who needs to feel a connection with the subject when producing powerful images. She is continually opening herself up to new techniques, subjects, and sources of inspiration.
Anne is a sought-after wedding photographer, fine art photographer, and kids portraitist. Her work has been recognized in many local venues, including most recently a show at The Blue Dot Café in Alameda called “Through the Looking Glass” and an honorable mention in the March edition of the PDN magazine.
Anne lives in Alameda with her husband of 13 years, her two hilarious and adorable kids, and an overly friendly black labrador.