No. 49. Arkadi Monastery, Crete, and a Story of Heroism

From a visual point of view, the Arkadi Monastery was among the most interesting places I visited on a recent trip to the Aegean. Most of the Photos in this gallery are from that location.
But the monastery is an important symbol of Crete’s history of resistance and rebellion against their oppression by the Ottoman Empire. In 1866 nearly a thousand Cretans sought refuge from an onslaught by Ottoman invaders. They fought a desperate battle before being overrun by a superior military force. A large number of the refugees, mostly women, and children, huddled for safety in the monastery’s powder room. Moments before it was overrun and rather than surrender to the Ottomans, the defenders ignited the barrels of gunpowder killing most of their own number, while killing a large number of the invaders. Of the 964 people present at the start of the Ottoman assault, 846 were killed in combat or at the moment of the explosion. 114 men and women were captured. Only three or four persons managed to escape.

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography, Encaustic Art, and Oil Painting He is an outstanding location photographer and painter, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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