FEATURED IN SPRING VALLEY LIFE
Journalist Opens Fauna and Flora To Underwrite K/NOW Project
Journalist Amy Kaslow hopes you’ll make an unlikely discovery when you step into her new wide-open industrial space with soaring ceilings, broad windows, and whitewashed walls: dramatic shapes and colors of a garden unlike any you’ve seen before.
Fauna and Flora Studio in the heart of Spring Valley behind Millie’s has drawn lots of noses pressed into its windows during the COVID lockdown. Inside, stunning, three-dimensional images take your eye from one wall to the next: Brilliant back-lit elephant ears, dahlias unfurling like bronzed origami, tree bark that mesmerizes with detail. Walk by a corner, and find a praying mantis looking you straight in the eye. D.C. native Kaslow has converted the former Ski Haus into a spectacular 1,500-squarefoot gallery to exhibit and sell her limited edition botanical prints.
It’s a refreshing new direction for Kaslow, a longtime journalist who has written, photographed, and broadcast from international crisis zones since her coverage of the West Bank in the early 1980s. It also serves a bigger purpose: she plans to use Fauna and Flora sales to finance K/NOW, her latest photostory journey into news. “We feel the best way to reach people is to exit the fray and get away from daily information’s feverish politicized pitch.” (K/NOW can be accessed for free at www.amykaslow.com/)
People cannot hear each other anymore, contends the veteran journalist. “K/NOW is part of the solution. It takes the audience out of the turbulence to examine an essential, underreported issue in a 360-degree way. Our readers are leaders in their countries, communities, enterprises, and families. They’re busy, and we have to capture their attention fast.” K/NOW pairs just one “see me” image with a tight, precise narrative. And adds one more paragraph called “DO NOW.” “Many readers are compelled to act, and we give concrete ways to learn more, even engage individually, with an organization, locally or across the world.” Recent issues examine Native American youth beating back their mountainous challenges and average Puerto Ricans solving problems their government ignores. Forbes Magazine named K/NOW a top ten must-read for 2019.
Kaslow has worked with many of the world’s top newspapers and magazines, and with the thousands of stories she reported, she’s shot many more images. Today, she ships major exhibitions across the country: vivid large-format portraits she says “are designed to engage communities in conversation about the fallout from conflict.” From El Salvador to Nigeria, Kaslow’s work focuses on how people move on after deeply scarring trauma, gang control, sexual violence, human trafficking, endemic corruption. “These are victims, perpetrators, eyewitnesses, and survivors; their portraits and storyboards are intensely impactful because they convey how human resilience meets threatening, often deadly challenges,” says Kaslow, who’s had one-woman exhibitions at the Palmer Gallery, Vassar College, the IATI Theater in New York’s East Village, University of Maryland’s Center for Conflict Resolution, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, the Chinatown Soup Gallery and the U.S. Library of Congress, among other venues. She appreciates the difference in her fauna and flora subjects, talking about the serenity of shooting a bumblebee stumbling through pollen,” for example. “I’ve spent my career examining human flaws and how to solve them. But photographing a drunken bee, an opening blossom, that’s altogether different because nature is perfect.”
Kaslow has been digging in the dirt since her childhood along Beach Drive, where great swaths of her mother’s plantings spilled down into Rock Creek Park. Today, the gardener’s daughter trains a lens on what springs from her own garden, where she and family tend beds of 65-year-old shade-loving heirlooms to this season’s new cultivars.
All are welcome to her new studio. “We can’t wait to meet the Spring Valley neighbors,” Kaslow says. She’s already talked with the folks at the nearby coffee bars, restaurants, and delis to plan sidewalk events. “It’s natural for Fauna and Flora Studio to become a community space,” she says, inviting garden clubs, neighborhood associations, and local nonprofit boards to meet in the studio’s vast and uncluttered space. Directly across from Millie’s and adjacent to Crate and Barrel, Fauna and Flora studio is open seven days a week, walk-ins and by appointment determined by COVID restrictions.