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Night Swimming

Estefany Molina Takes a Deep Dive into the Soul

Artist Estefany Molina has a very deep, soulful connection to her work, a profound understanding at age 31 of the human condition, and an ability through her own intuition to capture that on film. She describes the nature of photography as “writing with light, through time, with our subconscious mind.” A Latin American lens based artist with a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, Molina has found a vibrant life in  Greenport where she grew up.

Her most recent project Nightswimming is “a meditation on transience and connection through the vulnerability of the subject. Using the night, the sea, and time the images become intimate glimpses into something sacred.” For Molina, her creative process is a life process and several points of connection inspired the series: a favorite song of the same name, a distinct visual and emotional memory of a summer of love jumping off a dock at night, and a chance meeting with a three-year- old boy and his father teaching him how to use a Hasselblad camera which she ultimately borrowed to shoot the series. Add in the video artist Thomas Halaczinsky, who documented her beginning this series, and you have a winning combination.

“This is a very imperfect series,” explains Molina, “These are not perfect pictures, and I did not intend to make perfect pictures. I shot medium format film in extremely low lighting situations. Some of the images have had to be pushed digitally in order to get a shadow of an image. The lightboxes are weatherproof, but these pictures are grainy, hazy and glitchy. Connection is glitchy. Sometimes the beauty is in the glitch, in the grain, in the haze.”

Photo: Screenshot from video by Thomas Halaczinsky

Using the special camera, Molina captured her subjects through the darkness. She then printed a 3’ x 3’ image on polycarbonate material. Each is mounted within a lightbox powered by LED lights, creating a weatherproof piece of art. Her life-long friend and local carpenter Stephen Klipp carefully crafted each of the lightboxes. She comments, “He is not only just a carpenter, but a super talented musician and artist. After hearing what I was trying to do, he offered his help with no strings attached. Similar to the same guts you need to leap off the dock at 2 am, it was the energy I needed for the integrity of the project. He is now working on designing and building custom guitars.”

The resulting exhibition was a sensory voyage of light, sound and spirits (of the drinking kind) when it debuted at the Matchbook Distilling Company in Greenport. The upcoming shows will be held there on Saturday July 9th and August 27th from 3 to 8pm at 230 Corwin Street.

The viewer is left with an almost haunting, ethereal feeling from the works. “Each of my chosen subjects were in the midst of some kind of becoming or transition,” explains Molina, “Whether it was the falling in love or the loss of it; the start of a new era or the end of an old; an oscillation; a change in trajectory; or self-realization.” Molina had to earn their trust to capture the authentic emotion. She recounts, “The only way for my subjects to have felt safe with me in their own vulnerability is having been vulnerable myself and willing to share. These were very intimate, confessional moments. That is a totally scary position to be in. I have had several other people flake on me because the scenario was too intimate. You can’t force anything. It’s like Google Maps; the universe can only point so much. But if you keep fighting against the path, you’ll be rerouting endlessly. You just have to follow the momentum of your life, and let it flow.”

At a time when many of the younger generations are fleeing the East End of Long Island for more affordable options, it is refreshing to see artistic voices here getting an opportunity to connect with the public and sell their work. As Molina says, we should embrace those moments, “where we have had to learn, again, how to swim, how to trust, how to be in the world. It’s a re-wilding.”