Yoga exhibit presents connection to nature, different views on wellness

Students may think that the library is exclusively for studying and meeting up with friends, but it’s also the home of some exceptionally intriguing art exhibits. Milne Library is currently showing an exhibition of 11 photographers who have taken yoga as their artistic subject. What is different about their photos, however, is that they all feature one woman doing yoga in locations that are out of the ordinary, including on top of buildings, in the woods, on the beach and more. Located in Milne 208, the exhibit is colorful, raw and genuine. Each Rochester-based photographer has a different visual aesthetic and a different charity that they regularly donate to. They include Janine Susz—who donates to the Breast Cancer Coalition—and Lindsay Kathryn Jewett—who helps out Living Water, an organization that builds clean water systems in Central American villages. The photographers donate 25 percent of their profits to these charities.

All of the photographers featured Liza Savage-Katz, a yoga, Pilates, spinning and dance teacher. Savage-Katz explained that she is dedicated to personal health and fitness and to helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle that is tailored to each individual.

“Whatever the situation or circumstance, I will work with you and your family to develop a yoga and wellness program that supports you in being the healthiest, happiest you,” she said. This passion is translated beautifully and artfully into the photo series.

It’s true that each individual photographer has their own aesthetic. For example, Jasna Bogdanovska—who is a native of Macedonia and whose work holds a large amount of symbolism—photographs Savage-Katz as a small part of her surroundings. Whether she is under a tree on the waterfront or on top of a city roof, Bogdanovska zooms out so that Savage-Katz and her yoga poses become a part of the photo landscape.

This is quite different from Nitin Sampat’s work, which focuses on the yoga poses as the central feature of the images. He has put Savage-Katz in both natural and industrial environments, such as Rochester’s Highland Park.

Despite their individual artistic styles, the photographers share some similarities, such as their passion for personal health and wellness in both a physical and mental sense. Tracey Grier noted that she “loves to bring out the beauty of the moment and the passion of the persona being photographed,” and Teri Fiske—who is a boudoir photographer—“loves the energy she gets from helping other women find their fierce and own it.”

Visually, there are a few commonalities as well. The photos of Savage-Katz posing in front of colorful graffiti were popular, as was the theme of yoga in tune with nature.

Amy Vena and Bailey Johnson utilized Rochester’s graffiti as a background for Savage-Katz’s poses in order to create a contrast between the naturalness of the human body and the harsh structural architecture of an urban center. This juxtaposition is not a negative one, though. Rather, it serves to suggest to the viewer that one’s spiritual and mental health can be found wherever you go.

Both Susz and Bailey Johnson put Savage-Katz in natural environments, suggesting the human body’s connection to nature. Susz chose a woodsy haven, with Savage-Katz balanced on top of fallen tree trunks and in streams. In contrast, Johnson opted for the waterfront—complete with sandy beaches—and featured the yoga guru carefully posing on a surfboard.

With its medley of artists who each have a different take on personal health and wellness, such a unique photography exhibit is a rare one that should not be missed.