Whitney Scharer reads from her debut novel The Age of Light, appearing in-conversation with local independent curator and arts educator J. Sybylla Smith.
"An absolutely gorgeous and feminist novel about art, love, and ownership, The Age of Light is truly a work of art in itself, both deeply moving and thrilling. Want to know what it's like to be an artist? Read this astonishing novel and then, like Lee Miller, take time to consider the extraordinary cost she paid to be herself."--Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe
A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. "I'd rather take a photograph than be one," she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. But Man Ray turns out to be an egotistical, charismatic force, and as they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee's life forever.
Lee's journey takes us from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from discovering radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it's possible to reconcile romantic desire with artistic ambition-and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.
Told in interweaving timelines, this sensuous, richly detailed novel brings Lee Miller-a brilliant and pioneering artist-out of the shadows of a man's legacy and into the light.
Whitney Scharer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her short fiction has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Cimarron Review, and other journals. She's received an Emerging Artist Award in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, a Somerville Arts Council Artists grant, and been awarded a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The Age of Light is her first novel.
J. Sybylla Smith is an independent curator, educator and consultant of fine art photography. Smith has curated over 25 solo and group exhibitions featuring work by 75 international photographers in exhibitions in Boston, New York, Mexico, and Columbia. As an adjunct professor, guest lecturer and thesis advisor Smith has taught at Emmanuel College, Hofstra University, Wellesley College, Snow College, Harvard University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts and School of Visual Arts/New York. She teaches a unique curriculum focused on creativity and concept development for photographers. More information can be found at her website, www.jsybyllasmith.com.