Misha Gordin, the award-winning photographer (here), set out to be an aviation engineer. But after technical college in his native Latvia, he joined the special effects department of Riga Motion Picture studios instead. At 19, he took up photography, shooting portraits and documentary stills. He soon found those forms unsatisfactory, however, and put aside his camera to concentrate on Russian literature and cinematography. (He counts Dostoevsky among his major influences.) Always searching “for a way to express my personal feelings and thoughts using photography,” in 1972 he hit on a vehicle: capturing ideas rather than literal moments on film. Turning the camera inward, on his “soul,” Gordin produced his first conceptual photograph, Confession. “My goal,” he later told an interviewer, “is to create an image that ‘talks.’”

Fed up with communism and official Soviet-era art, Gordin emigrated to the United States in 1974. Here, his singular vision flowered. Each of his photos represents weeks of intensive work. He begins with a sketch, then shoots multiple images with a traditional analog camera. Once in the darkroom, he meticulously layers negative after negative, manipulating images to create “a world never seen before.” Filled with enigmatic figures in dreamlike settings, Goldin’s arresting black-and-white prints document the reality of inner experience. Conceptual photography, Goldin suggests, “reflects possible answers to the major questions of being: birth, death, and life.”

Glenna Olmsted (“Your Life Is Your Practice”) lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their Jack Russell terrier, Captain. A real estate agent for over 30 years, as well as an artist and a dancer, she has practiced Tibetan Buddhism for the last 13 years, mainly under the guidance of Tulku Urygen Rinpoche’s sons, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and Mingyur Rinpoche. She has also studied with Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, and Khandro Rinpoche.

Olmsted lived at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia for two years in a practice/work environment, while her husband was the abbey’s director. At that time, she became Pema Chödrön’s personal assistant, continuing in that role for the past 10 years. She has also served as secretary/treasurer of Mingyur Rinpoche’s Yongey Foundation since its inception in 2003.

Active with her sangha in Steamboat Springs, Olmsted lends assistance and encouragement to friends who want to do a retreat. Because most of the sangha members lead busy lives, she was inspired to create a format for a working retreat. The guide she prepared for Tricycle contains retreat instructions tailored to full- and part-time workers, and stay-at-home parents.

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