by Jeff Johnson
The first time I met Emilie was a few years ago in Joshua Tree. She was living in a van with her boyfriend; painting, climbing, dumpster-diving, and working evenings at the Crossroads Café. There was this unique air about her. She seemed very calm and her movements were smooth, as if she were perpetually on run-out slabs. But I could see in her eyes that her mind was full of continuous thought. It wasn’t till a few months later, when I saw her beautiful journals published in Alpinist magazine, that I realized she was an artist. This explained what I saw in her eyes.
Recently, I was shooting photos in Colorado. I ran into Emilie and her friends in Boulder. After a short day of climbing I asked if I could shoot photos of her in her studio. She said it was a mess because she was in the middle of moving to Utah. We went anyway.
Situated on the flat outskirts of Boulder, Emilie’s studio was a small, non-descript room in a non-descript building. The surroundings were cold, faceless. Inside were piles of clothes, climbing gear, her dog, and hovering over the clutter like a bright sun rising from clouds, was her art. She handled her work like it was someone’s life -- if she dropped a piece the memory would be gone forever...