BODHISATTVA / BLACK&WHITE / BEACH: Jon Kolkin, Elizabeth Opalenik, Craig Stevens

Jon Kolkin began photographing Buddhist monks in Bhutan, the only Buddhist Kingdom in the world, over 10 years ago. A couple of years later while working in a city of 8 million people in China, he discovered a 3-acre cloistered community of over one hundred Buddhist nuns. Despite the chaos that surrounded them, he felt these women had found a way to remain centered, stripping away the superfluous static that is so prevalent in most societies. It seemed these remarkable women possessed an inner harmony that transcended time and place. Jon was called to capture this with his camera. His idea was not so much to document it, but to try and share what he sensed existed inside the minds of these dedicated practitioners of Buddhism. These images were intended to stimulate a dialogue about the complex interplay of factors that influence our thought process, while drawing attention to the importance of striving to achieve a higher level of intellect, i.e. Wisdom. 

Jon chose to create this series in black and white because he felt it would more effectively translate the mood and environment. He also felt strongly that the images needed to be small and intimate, drawing the viewer close and allowing them to glimpse into the world of these Buddhist monks and nuns.  He finally decided on palladium printing, one of the oldest, most prized and most archival techniques in photographic printing. It is a very labor intensive, exacting and expensive process, but Jon chose palladium printing because of the incomparable tonal range and the softness that can be achieved with fine detail and depth.


Jon Kolkin has a worldwide following with major exhibitions in museums and art galleries throughout the US and abroad. His ongoing project, Inner Harmony, has received 20 international photography awards and was featured twice in the prestigious LensWork Magazine. This series, which began in 2011, is a collection of rare and intimate photographs of Buddhist monastics and laypeople from 10 Asian countries. It explores universally relevant strategies for living a less stressful, more balanced life, regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs. 


His book, Inner Harmony: Living in Balance, was recently released by one of the world’s leading fine art book publishers, teNeues. This groundbreaking project includes forewords by the Dalai Lama and Queen Mother of Bhutan.. INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS SILVER MEDAL WINNER FOR BEST PHOTOJOURNALISM BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021.Copies available at the gallery.

Jon is also involved in numerous compassion-centered initiatives including the ongoing Shades of Compassion international traveling museum exhibition which includes pieces from the Inner Harmony series which are exhibited alongside works by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Joyce Tenneson, and other accomplished photographers.  He spearheaded the North American summit, Fostering Compassion and Universal Ethics through Museums. This gathering brought museum professionals to India for a conference and private audience with the Dalai Lama. He also helped create the documentary film, Man of Compassion: Stories of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, which included participation by three US presidents.

Jon Kolkin is a photographer and physician with 20 years of experience as an international medical volunteer. He is sought after by a broad range of audiences to give presentations related to living a balanced life, the creative process, and other socially relevant topics. He has led workshops at the Maine Media Workshops and other venues worldwide. His training as an integrative medicine health coach helps in addressing people’s queries from a science-based perspective.


Veteran photographer and educator Elizabeth Opalenik feels a constant pull to the beauty in reflections. This has prompted her to seek other ways to achieve a similar result. She has now ventured into using mylar and mirrors to find new ways of seeing and appreciating the landscape. These images perhaps show us a bird's eye view, or what the landscape would look like through water. They are wondrous and imaginative works where details often disappear and give way to sweeping fields of color and suggestions of horizon.

These landscapes of my mind are my invisible soul pervading reality to see the possibilities amid the chaos. From Covid to climate change, from hurricanes to wild fires, from floods to drought, I chose to reflect the landscape in a new way, giving my mind a place to dream and comprehend. Intuition takes over in the process of exploring the complex abstractions creating a new order of beauty with colors and shapes. Together we must learn acceptance or how to be the change.

Craig Steven’s images act as memories and relics by highlighting moments and pieces of a scene that spoke to him. They continue to speak of the mysteries of the landscape through their elegance and beauty, juxtaposed with their initial environment. Through the formed relationships something larger is felt… perhaps a sense of fate and Nature. It is Craig’s embrace of air; an embrace of the space between our existence and the ephemeral nature of the contemplative sublime.

Craig Stevens is a photographer, printmaker and educator. He has taught, written and lectured extensively on the subjects of art, photography and education. Craig is in his 35th year at the Savannah College of Art and Design where he holds the rank of  Professor Emeritus. Prior to SCAD Craig was the Associate Director of the Maine Photographic Workshops from 1975 to 1985.He is periodically on the faculty of the Maine Media Workshops, the Santa Fe Workshops and the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, Colorado. Craig served as Director of Workshops for the 25th Anniversary of Les Rencontres Internationale de la Photographie in Arles, France.  Craig was the first recipient of the Susan Carr Educator Prize awarded by the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).




installation / opening images