Dakota/Class of 2012

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Dakota Cash Photography TristesseI’ve blogged so much about Dakota you probably already feel you know her, but maybe you don’t know her work yet, so I’d like to introduce you on the cusp of her graduation from Parsons.

Of course, Colleges of Art are not quite like any others… Dakota’s cap and gown were fire engine red and her commencement speaker, Dwayne Michaels, a brilliant 85 year old Fine Arts Photographer, advised the class to kick over the traces, never do anything the way the authority figures say to, and live every single minute of every day being true to their own vision and dreams.  He was an outrageous sage, brimming with  uproarious life force.  I wish I’d recorded every word – I think I’d play it for myself once a month as a reminder of how those of us who toil in the Arts must constantly renew our belief in ourselves and our work, against all odds.

Dakota Cash Photography TristesseSo, now she’s setting out, camera and portfolio in hand, to follow her dreams… Creative vision, ambitions and imagery all swirled into a fluid tapestry of talent and fragility, truth and fantasy. There’s a play of dark and light in her work, and a chameleon ability to morph both herself and Time. 

She won the coveted Best in Show Award at Graduation, after her work was shown at the Calumet Gallery in New York and she’s been freelancing solidly ever since graduation, so I’m hopeful about her prospects.  Yet, in these dicey times for the Creative Arts and for college graduates in general, employment at the work you love to do is not a given, so I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that the coming years will allow her the freedom to continue a body of work that’s both elegant and visceral in its complexities.  

Jody Quon, the revered Photography Editor of New York Magazine, called Dakota’s images“strangely beautiful and mysterious” and praised the “ambiguity of time and atmosphere” she captures. The black & white photos shown here are part of a series called Tristesse… the inspiration for which, Dakota explains in this way: 

Dakota Cash Photography“I became intrigued by the idea that there’s a parallel between the excesses, sexual and self-indulgent, of our current times and the Weimar Republic in Germany between The Great Wars.

In my exploration of that era, I found a performance artist, Anita Berber, famous in that desperately self-indulgent world, but now unknown, who seemed to embody the moment.  Tristesse attempts to capture the eroticism, transformation, indulgence, beauty, breakdown, fearfulness and fascination of the time, the woman and the parallel to our current culture.  She was lauded, adored, envied…the taboo-breaking embodiment of a debauched Age… then burned out, self-destructed and forgotten.”

Dakota’s Thoughts on the Her Process


Dakota Cash Photography

“The wistfulness of this whirling, dancing face is about the fragile strength of dreams set in motion by the seductive uncertainty of life.”


Dakota Cash Photography

“There is something noble about a face that understands sorrow and profound loss, yet conveys only beauty to the world around her.”


Dakota Cash Photography

“This diptych was done as an homage to David Lynch’s Lost Highway.”


Dakota Cash Photography

“I love the idea of transforming myself into someone else. I was touched by the Marilyn myth…a child-woman whose super-power was the ability to seduce any many alive – so I became her, for a while.”


Dakota Cash Photography

“I like morphing into other personas in bygone decades, imagining what quirks, fashions, fears and emotions made them who they were. Sunglasses are an elegant hiding place.”

So that’s a bit of it… I hope you’ll be intrigued enough to seek out more at her website www.DakotaCashPhotography.com.


© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2012

Posted on September 14th 2012 in Family

3 Responses to “Dakota/Class of 2012”

  1. 1500 Says:

    It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting
    things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read even more things about it!

  2. sally dodd Says:

    Dear Dakota and Cathy,
    Where are you? I have no way of contacting you, except for Dakota’s fantastic photography! I have a new computer, and lost your email,
    Please get in touch.
    I miss you both!
    Sally Dodd

  3. Cathy Says:

    Dear Sally…hope you got my email with all particulars. If not, let me know…this site will be expanding when my new book comes out.
    We miss you! Love, C & D

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