I’d have to be really quick to describe clouds – a split second’s enough for them to start being something else. Their trademark: they don’t repeat a single shape, shade, pose, arrangement. Unburdened by memory of any kind, they float easily over the facts.
– Wislawa Szymborska
William Haney's ABOVE photography project includes 29 selected images of clouds taken over the last decade. All proceeds are donated to the International Rescue Committee's Ukrainian relief efforts.
I LOVE CLOUDS. I ALWAYS HAVE.
– William Haney –
Lying on the ground, near the bay in rural Rhode Island, watching them snarl with heavy weather, reflect in roseate shades the sun as she set, simply pass with quiet majesty, or puff out into a form of playful welcome – clouds offered perspective and grace, asking nothing in return.
Always with us – clouds provide an endlessly shifting, perpetual frontier, where natural beauty remains unsullied, unbound, unconquerable and in constant motion.
Clouds can be moody or uplifting or frightening or joyous - or more accurately, trigger such moods in us.
Perhaps this is because they are full of portend - of weather to come or, for the biblically versed, the great arrival. Across religions, cultures and eras, clouds have been seen as a demarcation point between the heavens and our own gravity bound lives.
The everchanging beauty of clouds is what has long drawn my attention. And the peace that accompanies the serene, unspoken vantage point clouds hold for witnessing the turbulent habits of man. But over time, and as the society around us all coarsens, I have come to also see clouds as a democratic blessing, available for all to enjoy equally – and for none to possess.
For more than 25 years I’ve been photographing clouds, to celebrate them and in a small way, trigger a stronger connection with them.
But in the same way that I attend Mass, by sitting in the hindermost pew and letting the swirl of incense, stained glass filtered light, old stone floors and ancient rhythms affect me at a level deeper than thought, I have deliberately never studied clouds. Whatever sense I have as a scientist I prefer activated elsewhere. When observing clouds, I want to simply revel in the musicality of their dance.
A gift for painting clouds - suffused with romantic light, lending compositional counterpoint to the habits of rural life or serving as backdrops for the shenanigans of the Gods - enriches the work of painters from Tiepolo and Constable to Rauschenberg. Stieglitz sought healing and expression in the abstract potential and technical challenge of photographing clouds; in ways both more modern and darker, Eggleston saw the chance for philosophical expression in capturing them as well.
My own goals are more humble.
I want to share with you some of the beauty and peace that I see in clouds, hoping to offer you a moment of joy and soothing influence amidst the world’s roar.
– Dedicated to Irene Sullivan Haney, who taught me to always look for beauty.
CLOUDS AND WAVES
MOTHER, THE folk who live up in the clouds
call out to me- ‘We play from the time we wake till the day ends. We play with the golden dawn, we play with the silver moon.’ I ask, ‘But how am I to get up to you?’ They answer, 'Come to the edge of the earth,
lift up your hands to the sky, and you will
be taken up into the clouds.’
– Rabindranath Tagore
We all continue to watch the human tragedy in Ukraine caused by Russia’s invasion with horror, and with heavy hearts.
Thousands upon thousands killed, and millions driven from their homes and their country before a brutal and unprovoked attack. And while we also see heroism and the gleaming glory of courage and human compassion – the core of our reactions comes from our empathy, and our personal experiences as immigrants and the legacy of immigrants ourselves. We ask ourselves the central question. How can we help?
Founded by Albert Einstein in 1933, The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people devastated by politically driven humanitarian crises survive, recover, and rebuild their lives.The IRC is on the ground in Poland and Moldova and working with local partners in Ukraine to care for Ukrainian families.
All proceeds from ABOVE are donated to the IRC’s Ukrainian relief efforts.