Looking is Free

"Serene," long exposure portrait of Samanta Monteiro. Photo by Linda Costa Cheranichit.

“Serene,” lLight Painting Photography created in total darkness.

My greatest source of inspiration is humanity. As inherent as it may be to us all, some express  their humanity effortlessly. Compassion, kindness, generosity, and understanding are its common synonyms, but I find it is best defined by the word trust. Trusting someone, being trust worthy, all while trusting the flow of life defines humanity to me. It is most evident when we extend our hands out filled with nothing but love, and expect nothing in return, knowing wisely that sharing love carries its own value.  It is found when we approach life with an open heart and an open mind, trusting its natural unfolding. In our complex reality ‘humanity’ feels like an endangered word, one that is rarely championed and seemingly archaic. It is in fact a rare and precious gem, one which I value and explore in my work.

As I move through life, I find myself intuitively guided to the humane human. At times they find me first. A stranger with a foreign but familiar accent found her way to the gallery where I work last weekend asking if we had WiFi.  She had tried next door first and was told to try a hotel across the street. A sign outside our gallery caught her eye. It says: Looking is Free. Her curiosity and chance led her in. She explained that she was visiting from Canada on business and needed to call a Lift back to the hotel after a morning indulging at the beach.

"Cosmic" long exposure portrait of Samanta Monteiro. Photo by Linda Costa Cheranichit.

“Cosmic” Light Painting Photography created in total darkness.

I couldn’t help but ask her where her accent was from and was stunned to find she was from my natal city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like a lightning strike, the energy expanded in the room. We switched to speaking rapidly and excitedly in our native Portuguese. We asked each other: what neighborhood were you from back home? How long have you been away? Did you immigrate with family or alone? On and on we giggled and talked, joyously sharing details of our lives as if we’d always known each other, as if we were not, in fact, facing a complete stranger. Language can be a warm blanket, a comfort that makes us feel safe, understood, connected. We cozied up to each other, leaving my American co-worker quite lost and thoroughly entertained by our lively exchange.

Our open, trusting natures, and our mutual need to understand each other lead us to explore each other’s humanity through conversation. Soon we had exchanged life stories and contact information. She encouraged me saying she had never seen work quite like mine, and telling me she had contacts to share with me who would love and support my work. I let her know her energy was inspiring me and that I’d love to share my craft with her. We made a date to do a photo shoot that very night as she planned to fly home the next day.

Moments like these drive me. Rapid fire instinct lead me to connect authentically with her, human to human, heart to heart. We exchanged energy boldly without borders or boundaries, as family would. Our exuberant humanity on display gifted us the opportunity to create magic together, without fear or hesitation.

"Phoenix" long exposure portrait of Samanta Monteiro. Photo by Linda Costa Cheranichit.

“Phoenix”Light Painting Photography created in total darkness.

The images we created were both powerful and empowering. Gorgeous, talented, and hardworking, Samanta exuded all the markers of a successful self made woman. Yet during the shoot it became clear: she was a confident professional, but felt vulnerable in this new arena posing for the camera. Only a few hours before I had been a mere stranger, but I described to her who I saw in front of my lens. With both words and images, I reflected back to her the glory, power and magic I saw in her. I reminded her how open, courageous and inspiring she was. Our joined experience moved us both, lending intimacy to our creations. Humanity connected us, and revealed us to each other and to ourselves. I am so grateful for this chance encounter with a beautiful human. Obrigada Samanta.

Light Painting Photography: Linda Costa Cheranichit

Website: www.lindacostaphotography.com

Model: Samanta Monteiro



Dream a little dream with me

​​ Long exposure portrait of artist Jennifer Kikia-Yang in her original costume design 'Mother Nature' at The Sharpie Gallery, Treasure Island. Light painting photography shot by Linda Costa Cheranichit in total darkness in front of a live audience and projected during the Pop-Up art event "A Night in the Garden".

Long exposure portrait of artist Jennifer Kikia-Yang in her original costume design ‘Mother Nature’ at The Sharpie Gallery, Treasure Island. Light painting photography shot by Linda Costa Cheranichit in total darkness in front of a live audience and projected during the Pop-Up art event “A Night in the Garden” on 5/25/19.



Dream a little dream with me

Life on earth can be such blissful magic. The ‘real world’ may try to convince us that we are living in a nightmare at times. Yet, just like within our actual dream world,  there’s a bit of us that holds on to the awareness that we don’t have to stay in fear. If we could just wake up and take the wheel, if we could remember ourselves and our personal power, we would all be OK. Waking up would find us out of that fear and safe in our beds, surrounded by love and our abundant lives.

Lately I’ve been wide awake, and somehow life couldn’t be dreamier. I’ve been on a long journey of self discovery and the results so far have been so surreal. The shift has been so potent that I often see myself proclaiming from a mountain top for all to receive: Love yourself and others, and Life becomes what you will it to!

Self love is hard, constant work. Often unpleasant inner struggle can lead us in untangling the many knots found within ourselves. Old beliefs can then be shed and new ones coded and hardwired into our hearts and souls.

Rituals of both body and mind are necessary to keep a consistent flow forward. These rituals remind us of who we are, what we believe in, what matters, what we are building and why. I’ve always loved rituals. As much as my personal ones have gifted me freedom from the stories that held me back, I enjoy communal ones the most, rituals shared with others circled around a mutual creative flame.

The opportunity of applying for this grant was one of the most cathartic rituals I’ve endured, one that propelled me forward with such speed and force beyond where I was that I’m still coasting ahead due to its power. Gratitude is a small word for how I feel about the gifts it has brought me.

The application process at times felt like a much needed boot camp, one that brought me incredible rewards. By revising my creative resume, reaching out to past collaborators and mentors for recommendations and words of wisdom, creating a team of angels who assisted me in choosing the right words, and helped me hand pick worthy works, and doing my inner work, I was left with a crystal clear reflection of who I am.

I couldn’t deny the image in the mirror: that I was an artist worthy of support, a creative community leader. The arduous struggle of applying to the best of my ability, baring myself to both friends and strangers, led to this priceless, impactful result: I understood myself, my values and my work better than ever before. I am so grateful for everything that has come from applying to Creative Pinellas, it has opened so many more opportunities than merely this valuable grant for me.

After being accepted I’ve allowed myself to leave a workplace that I had outgrown. I’ve recently become an art consultant at The Sharpie Gallery in Treasure Island. It has been a dream come true, one I’d never before dared to dream. This past weekend I organized and held a pop-up art event at the gallery, showcasing several talented local creatives. Our audience experienced live painting, a poetry reading, a DJ, a live band, and a long exposure Light Painting Photography demonstration which I did with a model who wore her own original costume design (pictured above). It was a magical evening, one of many yet to come.

This grant has given me the opportunity to apply for and receive another grant. I am now a member of Co-starters, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s arts business academy. Since my first class last week I’ve started networking with many of the participants on ideas of how we can support one another in our creative business ventures, and some of them showed up to support my pop-up event at the gallery. I’m excited to be building community with fellow art entrepreneurs.  

Since receiving my acceptance letter I’ve outlined my visions for our Emerging Artists group exhibition in September. I’ve have been experimenting with and fine tuning these ideas into new works for a series that I’m excited to share with you.

I feel on track, abundant, and extremely grateful for this grant and what it is ushering into my world. I’m thrilled to have this platform to share the inner workings of my wild mind and my creative visions with our community. Thank you for reading and for supporting organizations like Creative Pinellas. When you do, they in turn support artists like myself who need their structure, resources and financial funding towards making a reality out of our creative dreams.

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