"My art arises from spontaneously capturing
spirit and emotional experience,
as it is presented to me as a witness."
Michael Philip Manheim's Earth Angels photography explores the sacred as it exists within our earthly selves. For over twenty-four years, Manheim has developed his signature multi-exposure technique.
It creates emotionally rich experiences for his subjects, while promoting selfacceptance and open-mindedness. Earth Angels focuses on how a human connection to Mother Earth can be a source of power and transcendence.
"All my subjects have precious experiences on the Big Island, that are linked to her wild nature and fed by it. Citizens of the world are slowly learning, as the original Hawaiians knew all along, the importance of their bond with the natural world."
"Here are my Earth Angels: tasting, smelling, feeling the glories of being, while enmeshed with the Big Island. Each is a collaborator who picks the location, moves to a personal rhythm, and identifies the most meaningful images."
Manheim encourages his volunteers to intuitively release their experience of the Island and their physical presence within it. Naked in body and spirit, these participants explore new-found vulnerability and their connection to the earth.
The multiply-exposed photographs result from chance and Manheim's spontaneous response, rather than composed observation. The lines of the bodies blur and blend with nature, surfacing newly released selves and states.
"Finding acceptance with yourself can transfer to acceptance in others. Even a small feeling of self-satisfaction can overcome the unhappy sense of craving power and control. It can transcend not only a meaningless quest for perfection, but the blame game of finding fault. Many participants, when viewing their photographs, thank me for the catharsis. I point out that my role is witness and facilitator, that I captured what they brought up out of themselves."
After twenty-four years of working in this manner, with this philosophy, Manheim never ceases to find joy in the process. He writes,
"When I'm editing I find delightful surprises. The images are like presents, left at my door. Here is authentic movement at its primordial best, an ancient gateway to the dance of life, a testament to the joy of self-discovery."