Photos: Juan Bonilla

“It seems to me that rain and thunder were to be again part of Tanabata night for me. As I arrived at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens thinking about the journey that had brought me there, the skies were threatening with big black clouds, as if it were the end the world.

It was nothing short of magical. I came full circle, philosophically, from the rainy day just a year ago that I arrived, camera in hand, in Liberdade, Brazil, to photograph the Tanabata Festival there.

Walking through the doors of Morikami, I could hear the Taiko drums…I looked around and realized this was my night. It was almost surreal. I thought about the warmth of people’s smiles and about how lucky I was to be able to listen to people’s thoughts and feelings when they shared their views and opinions of my photographs.

Being at the Morikami was an artist’s dream come true. I thought about my fellow artists, all part of the West Encounters East group, and our mentor and patron Stella Holmes, without whose presence in our lives none of this would be possible. I thought about all the people I spoke with while shooting the images I brought home from Liberdade, and smiled as I remembered their stories, their lives now imprinted in my life, as I now will have their faces woven in my memories forever. In a sense, their memories have become my memories, too. That is the beauty of working with portraying people — there is a human side to it, and I love that side.

Being at the Morikami encompassed everything an artist can wish for. It was truly a magical night all around!”

Jade Matarazzo