Monday, October 5, 2015

North & South Again

Somewhere on the Road in California (top image) & Sun Glinting off of a Spider's Web in Friday Harbor, WA  September, 2015 © Marissa Roth

On the road, 2,600 miles in 3 weeks. Was headed north to Friday Harbor, WA, to spend 2 months in a self-assigned writer's retreat in order to finish the text for the "One Person Crying: Women and War" book, when an unexpected good-news email dropped in with the offer of a teaching position at Saddleback College in Laguna Hills. My beloved friend Daniel Mazia always said, "You need to go where the work is...", and so I repacked the car and headed back down to LA in order to plug-in formally, get grounded and prep for the classes and to continue working on other projects.

Ah, the road of life sometimes decides for us….again, I thought I was heading north, to the land of pines and pacific environs. And again, I am back amongst the freeways and too familiar surroundings!

The journey continues…..

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monica Smith

                                                                      Monica Smith photographed in New York City,  May 9, 2015 © Marissa Roth

“Nothing much has changed in the world.”

This portrait of Monica Smith, who is Anne Frank’s second cousin, is the final portrait of Marissa's 31-year odyssey that is the global photo essay,”One Person Crying: Women and War.”

"I had the opportunity to photograph and interview Mrs Smith one day before her 92nd birthday this past May, at home in Manhattan. It was a great honor and profound pleasure to meet her and to feel her indomitable spirit which continues to prevail in spite of the many emotional heartbreaks that she endured in her life.

Monica Smith was born Dorothee Wurzburger in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 10, 1923. Her mother and Anne Frank’s mother were first cousins, and Anne was six years younger than her. In 1938, when it became increasingly evident that the situation for Jews in Germany was dangerous, Mrs. Smith’s parents put her on a Kindertransport to Holland where she was housed in an orphanage near Amsterdam.

Anne and Otto Frank would come and visit her regularly and bring peanuts. “I didn’t realize that she would become a saint. Maybe that’s what was needed. Her fingers were always covered with ink”.

In 1940, Mrs. Smith was reunited with her parents and they went to England where they boarded the RMS Samaria for the transatlantic crossing that took them to New York and would save their lives."

Saturday, July 11, 2015


                                                Stone cairn overlooking the Pacific,  Moonlight Beach, Encinitas, CA  July 11, 2015 © Marissa Roth

Today, I went for a walk on the beach….which had lots of small stones strewn in the sand. I decided to build a little cairn atop a large rock, as an homage to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who I had the great honor of hearing speak at both an event in Anaheim last Sunday, and on the occasion of his 80th birthday on Monday, in Irvine. 

My choice of stones came quickly and I built it purposefully, placing each stone in one go, as though I knew its stable position. A young surfer walked by and asked if I had built it, and then said, "...its nicely balanced."

I realized then that this cairn is a simple metaphor for equanimity - the balance of emotions - which His Holiness states over and over again is key to wisdom and happiness. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mary Ellen Mark

                                                                              Lady in a Lace Dress  Los Angeles August, 2014 © Marissa Roth

Today marks a very sad day for the world of photography. It was announced in the New York Times that the great documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark passed away on Monday, at the age of 75.

Mary Ellen was my light of possibilities and a profound role model. I looked up to her in awe, and revered her work for it's compassion and creative mastery. When I had the opportunity to take a photography workshop through the Friends of Photography in Carmel in the late 1980's, I was so tongue-tied with her that I could barely introduce myself. The last morning of the workshop, she sat down next to me at the breakfast table and started a simple conversation. I was delighted!

Her work is breathtaking in it's scope and human in its substance. She's given our time and history an incredible window from which to view humanity from. It is with profound sadness that I write this post.

"I would die if I had to be confined. I don't want to feel that I'm missing out on experiencing as much as I can. For me, experiencing is knowing people all over the world and being able to photograph." Mary Ellen said this in an interview to the introduction to her book, "Passport". Again, I follow her lead, and would agree with every word.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Earthquake Felt Around the World

                                                                              On the Road from Lhasa, Tibet, September, 2010 © Marissa Roth

The news came yesterday with a jolt as sudden as the tectonic shifts thrusting earthly plates under and over, up and down. These are the same plates and force that created The Himalayas over millions of years. This time, the world bears witness and tears, awed once again by nature's power and bereft at man's ever-present vulnerability.

Friends in Kathmandu are fine, but many aren't. News trickles in as the death toll advances. Treasures are lost and yet, hope somehow is found amongst the ruins. Suffering and survival. Twins born of the human spirit. Buddhism was also born in these mountains, offering a path out of the suffering in the Wheel of Life, which again is being tested on an enormous scale.

My thoughts are held in these mountains and with these people, in this frozen moment of heartbreak.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hollywood Powers That Be

                                               Harvey Weinstein, right , and Michael Katzenberg, Beverly Hills, March 24, 2015 © Marissa Roth

I had the opportunity to photograph the annual Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance Gala Dinner last week, honoring Harvey Weinstein. This larger-than-life Hollywood power broker, seen here with Jeffrey Katzenberg, not only sports an oversized jacket, but is a dedicated philanthropist, funding and championing far reaching causes. He did put on a tie before making his acceptance speak after receiving the 2015 Humanitarian Award.

Monday, February 23, 2015

International Women's Day

In commemoration of International Women's Day, 2015, I hope that you will be able to join me on March 8th at Venice Arts as they partner with American Jewish World Service, for an in-conversation with their L.A. Executive Director, Allison Lee. This will also be the closing reception for the exhibition.