Lenses of Perspective: English Professor Levine-Keating’s Love of Photography

Photography, like writing, is all about perspective. And Helane Levine-Keating, a Literature and Creative Writing professor at Pace, knows about that frame of perspective, whether it pertains to characters in a literary work or the framing of a photograph. And the camera lens gives her the ability to express that vision.

This second creative outlet, photography, is a way for her to express her thoughts visually. “People often have two fields they’ll work in and sometimes writers are very drawn to the visual world,” Levine-Keating said.

Levine-Keating brings that visual world to her classes through photographs and paintings, encouraging students to interpret writings in the visual sense as well as the literary sense. Her class Labyrinths and Literature explores these connections by looking at photographs of labyrinths across the world, her own photographs of labyrinths, and even abstract items such as spider webs that resemble labyrinths, as well as novels that function like labyrinths.

With a PhD in Comparative Literature, she automatically sees connections between writing and other realms. “It’s very natural to me to be thinking and framing a photograph as much as I might frame the way a story or poem would work and how they speak to each other,” she said.

The artist can enhance the photograph’s colors during the printing process, changing the image so that it more closely represents what is seen. Levine-Keating often photographs in the “raw,” which is a type of digital negative that gives her control in selecting the color palette. This ability to bring out different colors in a photograph demonstrates the similarities between photography and writing, in which one communicates his or her perspective using certain words.

Just as Levine-Keating pursues multiple creative outlets, she encourages her students to find their passion and their creativity, no matter what the field. “There are doctors who are poets!” she said, such as William Carlos Williams. Writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller painted, as do singer-songwriters Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.

To get a glimpse of the perspective through the lens of Levine-Keating’s camera, you can see her exhibition Water Music through June 15 at the offices of the Catskill Watershed Corp. in Margaretville, NY. Her work has been featured at galleries in Arkville, Margaretville, and Roxbury, NY and is available to view on her website. Her photo Tango was chosen as the feature photograph for the March online edition of International Psychoanalysis. Recent exhibitions include photographs of jellies in Medusae of the Sea and flowers from her own garden in Lucid Dreams. A solo show of new work, tentatively called Liminal Spaces, will open on August 12 at Longyear Gallery, Margaretville, NY.