Note: I'm writing this on behalf of photographer Eileen Counihan. She's at the Standing Rock Camp in North Dakota - and due to the limited cell service in the area, and that she's busy 24/7, I'm covering for her to get the word out NOW. She traveled to North Dakota from Cape Cod to try to do what she could, with her photographs, to support the intense efforts by the Water Protectors to defend their land - and ALL of our water - against the threat posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline, referred to as DAPL. If you don't know about #NoDAPL and the issues surrounding it, then find out now. And follow Eileen's journey. (I'll add links to the referenced sites as soon as possible; in the meantime, you can easily find them.)
Eileen left home in Truro, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, on Wednesday, November 2nd. She brought two large bags packed with items specifically requested by the Standing Rock Tribal Council, along with 4 brand new gas masks to help keep the Water Protectors safe from the National Guard and Militarized Police.
After a day-long trip, she arrived at Standing Rock on Thursday, November 3rd. She brought the supplies into the Standing Rock Camp and introduced herself and why she was there.
Eileen arrived with no introductions or contacts. Just wanted to get there to do what she can to "spread the word" through her photographs and "witness" these actions.
When she called me for the first time, I was relieved to hear that she had gotten there safely. She spent the first day getting the lay of the land, making contacts with people, and reassuring people that she was there to help.
That last point was the most difficult to accomplish on Day 1: reassuring people that she is there to help. To support them. Not to cause them harm.
Imagine arriving in what IS actually a war zone, and trying to convince people of this: you're not out to infiltrate their group, you're not trying to profit from them, you're not with the police - you're just there because you just couldn't stay home and do nothing.
The Water Protectors are under attack because some people care more about oil - aka money - than water.
Okay, that's it. I had my say now and I'll get on with Eileen's story.
She met some of the older Native American women in the cooking tent and started to help them. She did the laundry.
When Eileen started photographing the camp, she noticed the looks that she was getting with her "real" Nikon camera hanging around her neck. She felt the distrust and anger. She checked in at the press tent but was - and is - hesitant to wear a press pass. There's no clarity about whether it will help or hurt her efforts. The Military Police have shot people with press passes (with rubber bullets so far) and arrested them. Protections of the press seem non-existent.
Actually, forget about the word "protection" for a minute. This is really about respect for each other as humans. There is little to no respect for the Native Americans, their land, their rights, their sovereignty. This has been going on for centuries.
That brings us to today's situation: in combination with the lack of respect or recognition of the rights of Native Americans, there is little to no respect for water rights of ALL of us in the US. From Flint, Michigan across the country and beyond, once again, greed is taking over. Oil trumps water. (But as we say, we can't drink oil.)
The whole experience doesn't reflect what I grew up believing our country to be about. It is a travesty overall.
Back to Eileen.
She put away her Nikon camera and started using her iPhone so as not to be so obtrusive.
I didn't hear from Eileen until early afternoon on Friday, November 5.
"Erin, I was just on the Front Line. Oh my God. It's unbelievable. It really is a war zone. I can't believe this is the United States."
My adrenalin shot through the roof of my head.
"WTF! I thought you weren't going to the front line! You need to be okay. Remember why you're there, to take pictures. You're a photographer, not a warrior. You're there to support..."
She cut me off.
"I had to. How else can I take picture's of what is REALLY GOING ON?"
She had to hang up quickly. Something was going on. An action? Getting arrested? I had no idea.
I called her back repeatedly. And texted. No reply. For hours.
Finally she called me back. I exhaled a sigh of relief.
"I met one of the leaders. See the video from the Front Line. He's a marine. I'm seeing him again tomorrow. He gets why I'm here. Most people do." (I'll post video ASAP.)
I get why she's there.
Yet, it's difficult being the "support person" while someone that you love is in harm's way. It's taking me time to adjust to her new life as a "photographer-activist".
Even so, I was rocked when I looked at the new series of photographs and videos she shot out at the front line. I was brought to tears.
I was overwhelmed. How is this the United States? What century is this?
And, I'm increasingly concerned about Eileen's well-being.
She called me late at night to assure me that she's still okay. I guess "okay" is a relative term. You be the judge.
Eileen's fine art nocturnal photographs will be on display throughout the summer of 2016 at the following locations in Provincetown.
When you're on Cape Cod, please stop in and see her works, or return to this site to see a large selection of her images here in her online gallery:
Woodman/Shimko Gallery, 388 Commercial Street - fine art nocturnal photography; Limited Edition - metal and Giclee prints
Memories, 169 Commercial Street; regular edition metal prints
Cape Art Tiles, 309 Commercial Street; images printed on tile
Eileen Counihan was invited to exhibit as one of the artists chosen for the Center for Fine Art Photography's exhibition, "Night" with Sean Corcoran.
An international audience of collectors, curators, art consultants and other advocates of fine art photography will view the chosen artist’s work throughout the exhibition. Eileen's work is included with other featured artists in the Center’s Main Gallery exhibition in Fort Collins, Colorado and Online Gallery exhibition.
Exhibition Dates from June 17 - July 23, 2016 with a Reception on July 1 from 6-9 pm.
For more information, please visit http://www.c4fap.org/exhibitions/night/
Eileen Counihan Announces 2016 Winter/Spring Fine Art Festival Exhibition Schedule
If you're in Florida anytime from January through May, visit Eileen weekends at one of the Fine Art Festivals below:
By Brian Benson/Daily News Staff
Posted Aug. 5, 2015 at 2:45 PM; Updated at 2:52 PM
Erin Golden and Leslie Azaret are best friends, but their bond extends well beyond a lifelong friendship.
Both have battled breast cancer and are currently cancer-free. And, money Azaret raised through biking in the Pan-Mass Challenge - which concluded Sunday - helped fund research that contributed to Golden’s treatment
“Literally, my best friend saved my life,” Golden said.
Now, Golden and Azaret, who both grew up in Framingham, are working on a new fundraising initiative to support the Pan-Mass Challenge and its beneficiary, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Golden’s wife, photographer Eileen Counihan, took a series of night photos by the challenge’s Provincetown finish line that are for sale. All of the profits from the photo sales will be donated.
The memory of Richard “Logan” Dunne inspired the new initiative, called Logan’s Ride. Dunne died when he was 20 years old in 2013 after a five-year battle with neuroblastoma. He was friends with Counihan's and Golden's son, Jake, while both grew up in Truro. Dunne’s mother, Kim Kettler, is also helping with Logan's Ride.
Counihan, who also grew up in Framingham, said she often donated to people riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge.
“I thought ‘How can I give more?’” she said.
Beyond the Finish Line
Golden came up with the photography idea. Counihan thought it was “amazing.” Pan-Mass Challenge officials were equally thrilled with the initiative, which debuted at the challenge.
“People just loved them,” Counihan said, adding oncology nurses and other health care workers were especially interested in the images. “I think everyone is touched by cancer.”
Azaret, who now lives in North Andover and often bikes in the challenge, said she’s pleased to help out in another way with the photography initiative.
“I want to show people that cancer is not the end of the road,” she said of biking in the challenge. “I want to be hope for people that are going through cancer.”
The photos are on display at an exhibition at Counihan’s gallery, First Light Gallery, 397 Commercial St., Provincetown, through Aug. 12. The gallery will host a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 9.
And, the women hope to expand the initiative in the future.
“This is just the beginning,” Golden said.
For more information on the initiative and purchasing prints, visit www.logansride.org.
Brian Benson can be reached at 508-626-3964 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bbensonmwdn.