all the blessed stillness

by ayva kunes

artist statement

In the consistent upheaval of 2020, these photographs represent moments of beauty, peace, and blessed stillness. When I left Susquehanna for winter break the fall of my junior year, the campus I had always loved no longer felt like home. I was looking for an escape, a chance to rediscover myself following a tumultuous semester at SU. Galway, Ireland, offered me that escape. The opportunity to study abroad at a new university, separating myself from the worst of my memories at Susquehanna, was a blessing.

I could not have dreamed of a more beautiful location to return to myself. The Irish countryside was lush and green, the result of rain I’d never seen the likes of before living in Galway. The constant rain meant the sky was often overcast, the sun a very rare sight to be seen. But when the clouds did part and the sky shone blue above, it was all the more striking.

Unfortunately, my time in Ireland was cut short, but even the couple of months I did get to spend there served me well. As evidenced in these photographs, I traversed the country from the Cliffs of Moher, to Cork, to Wicklow. I got the distance and perspective I craved, and when I finally came back to Susquehanna’s campus, the memories stung a little less harshly. The university could be home once again.

When I look at these photographs, I see the places and the moments that refreshed my sense of self. The Irish rains cleansed more than just the landscape — in many ways they washed me clean as well.