Tom Quinn Kumpf believes in fairies. He's even had an encounter with one, and like any native Irishman raised to take for granted the mythology of the land, he has no doubt about what happened. It's just one of many intriguing stories in the Boulder-based Irish-American photographer's new pictorial book, Ireland: Standing Stones to Stormont. The oversized tome neatly blends scrupulous research, personal observations and jaw-dropping images of ancient sites imbued by Celtic mysticism. Not simply beautiful to look at, this book is also a fascinating read. Questions about his own family history, numerous trips to Ireland and work on his previous book, the more topical Children of Belfast, piqued Kumpf's interest in the psyche of the auld country. "I came to realize the war in the north has little to do with religion and more to do with identity," he says, noting that a Catholic in Belfast is tied to the land in ways most others don't truly understand. "Protestants are more like Americans here. They have this indigenous group of people, like American Indians -- they have the Irish." And like Native Americans, the rooted Irish believe in ancient mythology in spite of themselves.
"Ireland is one of the few places in the world not invaded by the Romans, so the Irish mythology is very pure," Kumpf says. "And that mythology is not taught to children as myth; it's taught as history. I'm probably one of the few documentarians who actually have looked at this phenomenon in a serious light."
Meet Kumpf and view his Irish images tonight at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, during a reception and book signing from 5 to 9 p.m. The show continues through March 14; call 303-623-4059 or log on to www.cameraobscuragallery.com. -- Susan Froyd
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Feminist author kicks off Women's History Month
Today, author bell hooks will help usher in Women's History Month at Auraria. Her book, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, was named by Publisher's Weekly as one of the most influential women's books of the past twenty years. Long considered one of the country's leading intellectuals, hooks has spent two decades exploring the divisive issues of race, gender and class, and outlining a movement in which those topics can become inclusive, understood and dealt with in terms of interconnectedness.
"In her most recent book, [hooks] talks about inclusiveness regarding the feminist struggle and how it's important to bring men in to challenge and change the patriarchy," says Regina Lang, associate director of the Institute for Women's Studies and Services at Metropolitan State College.
Hooks will expound on that vision during an 11:30 a.m. lecture in the Tivoli Turnhalle, in the Tivoli building on the Auraria campus. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 303-556-8441. -- Karen Bowers