Portfolio: Stella Johnson, New Work From Greece Part II

Stella Johnson has four new images from her work in Greece on the New York Photo Festival website. Each image is accompanied by a journal entry about the making of the image. The four images and the accompanying text will be reprinted here two parts. This post has the second two images; the first two were published here on April 29th.

Boston-based Stella Johnson received her photography training at The San Francisco Art Institute and holds an advanced degree in journalism from Boston University's College of Communication. She was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico in 2003-2004 and in 2006 she returned as a Fulbright Senior Specialist to Mexico. Stella's personal work has been recognized by a New England Foundation for the Arts, Cultural Collaborative Artist-In-Residence Grant and has been highlighted in dozens of shows. She is best known for her work in developing countries, where she has focused on the lives of women and their families. The work is showcased in the book AL SOL.

Crete, Greece 2011

I took a bus from Chania to Anogia, a village in the mountains of Crete. I expected a recycled yellow American school bus like the ones I had ridden in Mexico and Central America. I was wrong. This was a fresh new luxury coach, with comfortable upholstered seats. The roads snake around the edges of the mountains. Great views, of course, and a mild nausea that goes with the possibility of plunging off a precipice, or meeting another car head-on at a blind curve. Village streets barely accommodate the scale of our bus because these streets were intended for transportation by donkey. In fact, on one curve, the driver gets out of the bus, removes his oversize rear-view mirror, attaches a smaller version, returns to his seat, drives around a corner, stops the bus again, gets out and switches back to the oversize mirror.

This driver excels at being busy and driving an obstacle course. He seems to take a precise pride in squeezing through tight spots and assuming responsibility for a long list of demands. He’s the man - chain smoking, talking on a cell phone, hello-ing his regulars by their first names, dropping off mail to post offices on his route, serving as an adhoc “UPS/Fed Ex” guy, watching over the round-trip comings and goings of about 25 children who attend schools as far as two hours from their homes. No missing brats, no dents, or scratched paint jobs. He might even love this job.

In Anogia, the driver dropped me off in front of my hotel, not at the bus stop. He just does that. Welcome to Greece.

Mytilene, Greece 2011

My cousins were gifted a foosball table for Christmas. Christos, 12 and Themis, 8, played foosball with their friends for hours. So did I. I tried desperately to make a photograph of this thing, of the children, aunts and uncles screaming, gesturing, winning and losing. They played inside and out, in the sun and under the clouds. Hours and days went by. I got better at the game, but no photos.

One morning I arrived at the house. The children were not there. The table had been moved. The light was pouring in the window.