Suzanne Sandboe

Seeing is Knowing

by Margaret Price

Bonebed

Behind her unrestrained veil of creativity, whether she’s working on an expansive, transparent watercolour mural of the local landscape for an area school, doing her own framing or churning out clay, kiln-fired pieces in her beautiful, 2,000 square foot “Canvas & Clay Art Studio” in the country, Suzanne Sandboe exudes qualities we associate less with leisurely, painterly artists and more with stock brokers and brain surgeons: ambitious, determined and always, always busy. “I need to have 48 hours in the day instead of 24 hours,” she jokes. “There aren’t enough hours to get everything done, but I always manage.”

But going beyond that veil, there’s another part of the artist that finds its way into her work. Sandboe also works part time as controller for her husband’s Grande Prairie based company. A bookkeeper by trade, she employs the same skills necessary to succeed in her part-time profession as she does in pursuing her passion: detail oriented, analytical, methodical, with meticulous eyes always open and searching for something. “I think the artist sees things differently than most people do,” she says.

Born and raised in the Peace Country, Sandboe, who traces her ancestry to both Norway and Czechoslovakia, fondly recalls a childhood growing up on her parents’ farm, deeply in tune with nature and the surrounding landscape. The yearning to begin creating art began at a very young age, and it came very naturally, as she was in lower grade school when she first realized that she could draw. Developing this talent over the years on her own, she began experimenting with different mediums and started painting with watercolours, enthralled by the immediacy of the medium. “I’ve always kind of wanted to try everything,’ she says. “I enjoy many different things so as a result I’ve kind of dipped my fingers in a lot of different pies and tried lots of different things over the years.”

In high school, a mentor gave Sandboe a set of oil paints and all the supplies needed, so she moved into painting with oils, an artistic form she would adhere to for several years to come. While she enjoyed this medium, she felt a strong desire to return to painting with watercolours, a yearning to return to the start after having benefited from years of experience. “Any art should be progressing, your work should be improving and changing, and you learn new things as you go along and you experiment and try new things,” she says. “As I look back on my career as an artist, things are much different now than they were 25 years ago when I first starting painting. Your style grows and you become a much more solid, well-rounded, confident artist and you become a sort of master at your medium.” And once she found her way back, things just took off from there. She began selling her work through Unique Gallery in Grande Prairie in 1989, making a name for herself in the area. From 2002 to 2006, her work could be found at the Front Gallery in Edmonton. “When you’ve been around and doing art for as long as I have, people get to know you, and I’ve been very well supported by the Peace Country,” she says.

Ideal light filtering onto Suzanne's old oak painting table

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Sandboe is that she is primarily self-taught, citing love and passion as her impetus for creating. “I didn’t actually go to art school,” she says. “I’ve taken some workshops over the years, but my primary learning is through experimentation and what I’ve gathered from workshops and what I’ve gathered from doing things on my own. I know a lot of artists have this sort of philosophical story behind all of their work, and I’m sort of not that way. I don’t have a lot of ‘art speak’ when it comes to explaining what I do, I just do what I do because I love doing it. I enjoy creating, painting and drawing, I just don’t know if there’s much philosophy behind it.”

All modesty aside, Sandboe’s repertoire of workshops is actually quite impressive, including wheel throwing with Bibi Clements in 2000, pottery with Yasuo Tirada in 1999 and watercolours with Jim Adrain in 1990, the first watercolour workshop she ever took. To further her education, she participated in the Red Deer College Summer Series Art Program, where she gained additional instruction in watercolours and wheel throwing. In addition to being a student in several workshops, she has taught watercolour workshops in Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge and Sexsmith, and hopes to possibly begin teaching classes in her studio in the future. Her professional associations are extensive. She was accepted as a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists three years ago, joined the Alberta Society of Artists 12 years ago and joined the Peace Watercolour Society 27 years ago, where she has served on the executive board for over 18 years.

Needless to say, Sandboe isn’t exactly a novice in the Peace Country art world of massive scenes of the Western Canadian landscape, gorgeous mountain vistas and serene images of forests and rivers. “It’s about painting the local community and the people and the things that happen here,” she says. “As I grew up, we did a lot of fishing and camping, and so I enjoy the mountains, rivers and nature. It’s kind of a common thread that runs through my work, the countryside, the landscape and the history of people.”

Suzanne with a selection of her watercolours

Her ties to the local landscape can be best seen in a work she completed last year for the County of Grande Prairie’s Farm Family Award, entitled Four Up, Ace, King, Gypsy, Ginger –a striking, heartfelt work that belied her background as a young, headstrong farmer’s daughter. Another work derived from and reminiscent of her childhood is Saddle Hills Evening, a glowing, almost ethereal piece inspired by her time spent on her father’s and grandfather’s cattle grazing bush land up north in Saddle Hills. Soft beams of light stream through the forest, and a sense of nostalgia settles over the scene. “This piece is of the evening sun setting through the trees, and it’s just what it’s like up there, with all the poplars and aspen,” she says. “It’s beautiful, it’s very peaceful, and we spend a lot of time up there. Our family has always been very close but going back to the land has kept us close.” Angel Glacier Pond at Mt. Edith Cavell demonstrates Sandboe’s ability to convey emotion and a story in a painting. Roughly 12 years ago, she and a group of artist friends set off on a trip to Jasper to record the landscape, with easels and paint in tow. “The mountains are very near to my heart,” she says. “It was really cold out and we spent the whole day up there. The atmosphere was incredible, full of mist and clouds.”

But Sandboe, always the experimenter, wouldn’t be fulfilled just adhering to one subject matter. While she loves to paint landscape, she is particularly drawn to portraying historical items. Take, for instance, her work Outta Gas. While out taking a drive one day and looking for things to paint, Sandboe came across a group of old buildings that were most likely old country or hardware stores. Moved by the historical significance of the scene, she decided to record the moment. “I was driving along and spotted these amazing old buildings,” she says. “There was the shell of an old gas pump there, and it just struck me: they’re out of gas.”

Saddle Hills Evening

Despite the immediacy in her work, sometimes the process can take years in the making. Roughly 20 years ago, Sandboe traveled down to Pipestone Creek for a family reunion, where, unbeknownst to the artist, paleontologists would make a notable dinosaur fossil discovery. “I had gotten up really early one morning and gone down to the creek to do some sketching, about 6 a.m., and I remember it really well because it was kind of spooky and it was cool and damp, and no one was up at the campsite,” she says. “I went down there and spent the morning drawing and I walked away with several sketches in my sketchbooks.” Two sketches from this trip eventually made their way into finished works, one, entitled Bonebed, which Sandboe had the honor of presenting to Dan Aykroyd and his wife at last year’s inaugural ball for the fundraiser for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Grande Prairie. The other painting, entitled Midnight Moon on Pipestone, was donated to the museum itself. Despite seeming like straightforward images of landscape, Sandboe’s talented hand draws the viewer in with striking visual elements and allows the viewer to see beyond the surface, becoming acquainted with and eventually knowing a deep, emotional realm.

Four Up, Ace, King, Gypsy, Ginger

When beginning the creative process, Sandboe often begins with a sketch, taking photographs as a backup, although she states that she believes that what you see and then transfer, pencil to paper, is not necessarily what stands out in a photograph, preferring instead to have a quick sketch of what it was that grabbed her in the first place. “I grew up in the country, so I’m always looking for things to paint,” she says. “I’m always paying attention to the environment and what’s around me.” Whether she’s going out with the sole intention of finding an object to paint, or if she just happens upon something fascinating and worthy of being recorded on canvas, she continually exists with eyes open. “What I paint is what I see,” she says. “I don’t just sit down and make up something, I like to see it, feel it or experience it, and that’s kind of what I do. I’ve got my eyes open and when I see things, I become enthused and it makes me want to create and paint. It just comes to me naturally.” The spontaneity in Sandboe’s work is palpable, and while many artists might overwork a landscape, not quite knowing when to stop adding elements to a work, she strikes a balance between composition and liveliness, her muted watercolours always convey a story, a feeling, an expression.

Midnight Moon on Pipestone Creek

Describing her style as “realistic yet painterly,” Sandboe’s broad artistic range allows her to be capable of doing a lot of different things, engendering a body of work that manages to stay fresh and interesting instead of becoming stale and stagnant. “In my work, I like there to be a lot of expression and I like to try and tell a story,” she says. “I want the viewer to get something out of the painting when he or she looks at it.”

As far as future plans go, Sandboe, always the busy artist, has a few shows coming up, including a show for the Federation of Canadian Artists and a group exhibition with the Peace Watercolour Society, as well as a list of commission work to complete. She hopes to do a solo show soon, most likely with a historical focus. “I’d like to do something about our heritage, our roots, where we come from,” she says. My grandparents came from the old country and arrived in Canada, so I think it would be interesting to explore how they landed, where they went and how they lived.”

For Sandboe, seeing is knowing, and knowing is essential to the creative process. “Someone once told me paint what you know and you’ll be a lot more successful at what you do,” she says. “And that’s exactly what I do.”


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Three Floral Photographers

by Susan ThompsonGertrude Stein famously said “A rose is a rose is a rose”. Yet throughout human history flowers have been used not only to beautify our homes and lives, but as symbols and metaphors for everything from romance to femininity to the cycle of human existence itself.   These three floral photographers all emphasize the learning curve they followed to become better able to capture their own visions of the world with a camera. Just like the flowers they photograph, they are constantly seeking the light.

Klaus Peters

[caption id="attachment_1839" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Tulip Petals"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="262" /> [/caption]Klaus Peters first got into photography in 1993, taking photos for his wife Rika Peters, a painter. She needed something to use as subjects for her paintings, but Klaus found that he enjoyed taking the pictures for himself as well as for his wife. “From there it developed,” he explains, pun perhaps intended. “I started out with beauty. I see a scene, and say oh, that’s a picture, that’s something I want to capture.”In 2003 Peters went digital, and his photography took off. “I think that the price of a photo in those days was about one dollar a photo. Now I was taking pictures left, right and centre and it didn’t cost me a thing. It freed me up to learn. I could take ten pictures instead of two pictures, and that learning curve really helped me.”However, Peters still credits his wife’s artistic eye for helping him learn to compose a photo. “I was a carpenter by trade and everything had to be straight and level. I had to relearn what crooked meant. She taught me a lot about composition.”“Flowers are my passion, and then comes birds. With the flowers, I go into macro, and then you can learn to take pictures that are out of focus, instead of the carpenter’s way.” Peters now spends each winter taking photos of flowers, such as a recent photo shoot of daffodils. “In the wintertime it’s an indoor sport.” However, he doesn’t limit himself only to flowers, making sure to capture images of everything from the birds at the feeder outside his window to the nesting blue herons he hopes to see this spring.Peters’ work is regularly displayed at Picture Perfect in Grande Prairie, and most recently a dozen of his photos were also displayed at the Ovations Theatre.

Sharon Krushel

[caption id="attachment_1840" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Wild Roses After Rain"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="249" /> [/caption]Sharon Krushel is a floral photographer who, like Peters, began photography almost accidentally. Her first nature photography was for the purpose of Powerpoint backgrounds. She found that song lyrics were more visible on dark backgrounds, and started looking for images with a dark background but a few flowers catching sunlight.The images came to symbolize something for Krushel, a meaning she continues to pursue in her photography. “There are certain images I find speak to me. I’m looking for images of hope, grace, survival, and perseverance.”“Sometimes we get feeling trapped in a work situation or other environment where we feel that the artist in us is being paved over. I remember heading for the hills feeling extremely weighed down and depressed on a very dreary day in late May, when I came upon a tiny wild violet barely visible under a dump of snow. It was at the topmost point of my hike, and I had not brought my camera.So I walked down through the snow, the slush, and the mud to get my Nikon, and I don’t even know how long I was on my belly on the ground photographing this little Johnny Jump Up smiling bravely at me from under that heavy, wet blanket. I went back the next day with my camera, and there it was open to the light, with only one drop of melted snow remaining on one petal.” For Krushel, it was a profound message, a sign in flower form.“I seem to see life in pictures, but I so often couldn’t capture what I saw. A lot of times it would be specific lighting, but the photograph would turn out differently,” she explains.Krushel now feels that her work has progressed to the point where she can capture the way she sees things, showing tiny pieces of light in the darkness.

Kim Scott

[caption id="attachment_1841" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Untitiled"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="233" /> [/caption]Kim Scott was recently invited by the Prairie Art Gallery to show the photos she has taken of the gallery restoration during the last six months. This exhibit will be her first public show since she left school. Scott studied photography after high school, and also took architectural photography for three years at university but eventually put photography on hold for two decades.During that hiatus, Scott noticed her vision deteriorating. “Due to my perseverance in finding a doctor who took me seriously the brain tumor pushing against my optic nerve was removed. I noticed when it came back a second time, and had more surgery plus radiation. The radiation left me with some memory and attention troubles, but luckily, most of my vision came back.” This very literal change in Scott’s vision still affects her and her photographic works.“Every day I am consciously aware of and thankful for my vision. I regained nearly normal eyesight after both surgeries. Because of the remaining double vision, I do need to turn my body more than my head to look left or right. And, I read with one eye closed, just like I take pictures. One eye is for close, the other for far away. Each eye sees colors a bit differently, so I have a choice.”“It is so thrilling to learn different ways to photograph and process, and my favorite has been macro flowers. Macro photography shows us hidden landscapes, sometimes populated with their own now visible creatures.” Scott adds that flowers celebrate life, something she has also learned to do since her surgeries. Scott also finds that she has not only become fascinated with floral subjects, but the very light that illuminates them. “Light hides and light reveals. It is the glow of backlight, the texture of sidelight, and the strike of front light, the last of the light and the first, especially when I am up all night. Sunshine shows textures, shadows, and drama, while cloudy days reveal shape and form,” she says. “I follow the light.”
6 years ago

Three Floral Photographers

by Susan ThompsonGertrude Stein famously said “A rose is a rose is a rose”. Yet throughout human history flowers have been used not only to beautify our homes and lives, but as symbols and metaphors for everything from romance to femininity to the cycle of human existence itself.   These three floral photographers all emphasize the learning curve they followed to become better able to capture their own visions of the world with a camera. Just like the flowers they photograph, they are constantly seeking the light.

Klaus Peters

[caption id="attachment_1839" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Tulip Petals"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="262" /> [/caption]Klaus Peters first got into photography in 1993, taking photos for his wife Rika Peters, a painter. She needed something to use as subjects for her paintings, but Klaus found that he enjoyed taking the pictures for himself as well as for his wife. “From there it developed,” he explains, pun perhaps intended. “I started out with beauty. I see a scene, and say oh, that’s a picture, that’s something I want to capture.”In 2003 Peters went digital, and his photography took off. “I think that the price of a photo in those days was about one dollar a photo. Now I was taking pictures left, right and centre and it didn’t cost me a thing. It freed me up to learn. I could take ten pictures instead of two pictures, and that learning curve really helped me.”However, Peters still credits his wife’s artistic eye for helping him learn to compose a photo. “I was a carpenter by trade and everything had to be straight and level. I had to relearn what crooked meant. She taught me a lot about composition.”“Flowers are my passion, and then comes birds. With the flowers, I go into macro, and then you can learn to take pictures that are out of focus, instead of the carpenter’s way.” Peters now spends each winter taking photos of flowers, such as a recent photo shoot of daffodils. “In the wintertime it’s an indoor sport.” However, he doesn’t limit himself only to flowers, making sure to capture images of everything from the birds at the feeder outside his window to the nesting blue herons he hopes to see this spring.Peters’ work is regularly displayed at Picture Perfect in Grande Prairie, and most recently a dozen of his photos were also displayed at the Ovations Theatre.

Sharon Krushel

[caption id="attachment_1840" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Wild Roses After Rain"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="249" /> [/caption]Sharon Krushel is a floral photographer who, like Peters, began photography almost accidentally. Her first nature photography was for the purpose of Powerpoint backgrounds. She found that song lyrics were more visible on dark backgrounds, and started looking for images with a dark background but a few flowers catching sunlight.The images came to symbolize something for Krushel, a meaning she continues to pursue in her photography. “There are certain images I find speak to me. I’m looking for images of hope, grace, survival, and perseverance.”“Sometimes we get feeling trapped in a work situation or other environment where we feel that the artist in us is being paved over. I remember heading for the hills feeling extremely weighed down and depressed on a very dreary day in late May, when I came upon a tiny wild violet barely visible under a dump of snow. It was at the topmost point of my hike, and I had not brought my camera.So I walked down through the snow, the slush, and the mud to get my Nikon, and I don’t even know how long I was on my belly on the ground photographing this little Johnny Jump Up smiling bravely at me from under that heavy, wet blanket. I went back the next day with my camera, and there it was open to the light, with only one drop of melted snow remaining on one petal.” For Krushel, it was a profound message, a sign in flower form.“I seem to see life in pictures, but I so often couldn’t capture what I saw. A lot of times it would be specific lighting, but the photograph would turn out differently,” she explains.Krushel now feels that her work has progressed to the point where she can capture the way she sees things, showing tiny pieces of light in the darkness.

Kim Scott

[caption id="attachment_1841" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Untitiled"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="233" /> [/caption]Kim Scott was recently invited by the Prairie Art Gallery to show the photos she has taken of the gallery restoration during the last six months. This exhibit will be her first public show since she left school. Scott studied photography after high school, and also took architectural photography for three years at university but eventually put photography on hold for two decades.During that hiatus, Scott noticed her vision deteriorating. “Due to my perseverance in finding a doctor who took me seriously the brain tumor pushing against my optic nerve was removed. I noticed when it came back a second time, and had more surgery plus radiation. The radiation left me with some memory and attention troubles, but luckily, most of my vision came back.” This very literal change in Scott’s vision still affects her and her photographic works.“Every day I am consciously aware of and thankful for my vision. I regained nearly normal eyesight after both surgeries. Because of the remaining double vision, I do need to turn my body more than my head to look left or right. And, I read with one eye closed, just like I take pictures. One eye is for close, the other for far away. Each eye sees colors a bit differently, so I have a choice.”“It is so thrilling to learn different ways to photograph and process, and my favorite has been macro flowers. Macro photography shows us hidden landscapes, sometimes populated with their own now visible creatures.” Scott adds that flowers celebrate life, something she has also learned to do since her surgeries. Scott also finds that she has not only become fascinated with floral subjects, but the very light that illuminates them. “Light hides and light reveals. It is the glow of backlight, the texture of sidelight, and the strike of front light, the last of the light and the first, especially when I am up all night. Sunshine shows textures, shadows, and drama, while cloudy days reveal shape and form,” she says. “I follow the light.”
6 years ago

Three Floral Photographers

by Susan ThompsonGertrude Stein famously said “A rose is a rose is a rose”. Yet throughout human history flowers have been used not only to beautify our homes and lives, but as symbols and metaphors for everything from romance to femininity to the cycle of human existence itself.   These three floral photographers all emphasize the learning curve they followed to become better able to capture their own visions of the world with a camera. Just like the flowers they photograph, they are constantly seeking the light.

Klaus Peters

[caption id="attachment_1839" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Tulip Petals"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="262" /> [/caption]Klaus Peters first got into photography in 1993, taking photos for his wife Rika Peters, a painter. She needed something to use as subjects for her paintings, but Klaus found that he enjoyed taking the pictures for himself as well as for his wife. “From there it developed,” he explains, pun perhaps intended. “I started out with beauty. I see a scene, and say oh, that’s a picture, that’s something I want to capture.”In 2003 Peters went digital, and his photography took off. “I think that the price of a photo in those days was about one dollar a photo. Now I was taking pictures left, right and centre and it didn’t cost me a thing. It freed me up to learn. I could take ten pictures instead of two pictures, and that learning curve really helped me.”However, Peters still credits his wife’s artistic eye for helping him learn to compose a photo. “I was a carpenter by trade and everything had to be straight and level. I had to relearn what crooked meant. She taught me a lot about composition.”“Flowers are my passion, and then comes birds. With the flowers, I go into macro, and then you can learn to take pictures that are out of focus, instead of the carpenter’s way.” Peters now spends each winter taking photos of flowers, such as a recent photo shoot of daffodils. “In the wintertime it’s an indoor sport.” However, he doesn’t limit himself only to flowers, making sure to capture images of everything from the birds at the feeder outside his window to the nesting blue herons he hopes to see this spring.Peters’ work is regularly displayed at Picture Perfect in Grande Prairie, and most recently a dozen of his photos were also displayed at the Ovations Theatre.

Sharon Krushel

[caption id="attachment_1840" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Wild Roses After Rain"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="249" /> [/caption]Sharon Krushel is a floral photographer who, like Peters, began photography almost accidentally. Her first nature photography was for the purpose of Powerpoint backgrounds. She found that song lyrics were more visible on dark backgrounds, and started looking for images with a dark background but a few flowers catching sunlight.The images came to symbolize something for Krushel, a meaning she continues to pursue in her photography. “There are certain images I find speak to me. I’m looking for images of hope, grace, survival, and perseverance.”“Sometimes we get feeling trapped in a work situation or other environment where we feel that the artist in us is being paved over. I remember heading for the hills feeling extremely weighed down and depressed on a very dreary day in late May, when I came upon a tiny wild violet barely visible under a dump of snow. It was at the topmost point of my hike, and I had not brought my camera.So I walked down through the snow, the slush, and the mud to get my Nikon, and I don’t even know how long I was on my belly on the ground photographing this little Johnny Jump Up smiling bravely at me from under that heavy, wet blanket. I went back the next day with my camera, and there it was open to the light, with only one drop of melted snow remaining on one petal.” For Krushel, it was a profound message, a sign in flower form.“I seem to see life in pictures, but I so often couldn’t capture what I saw. A lot of times it would be specific lighting, but the photograph would turn out differently,” she explains.Krushel now feels that her work has progressed to the point where she can capture the way she sees things, showing tiny pieces of light in the darkness.

Kim Scott

[caption id="attachment_1841" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Untitiled"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/P1020853-350x262.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="233" /> [/caption]Kim Scott was recently invited by the Prairie Art Gallery to show the photos she has taken of the gallery restoration during the last six months. This exhibit will be her first public show since she left school. Scott studied photography after high school, and also took architectural photography for three years at university but eventually put photography on hold for two decades.During that hiatus, Scott noticed her vision deteriorating. “Due to my perseverance in finding a doctor who took me seriously the brain tumor pushing against my optic nerve was removed. I noticed when it came back a second time, and had more surgery plus radiation. The radiation left me with some memory and attention troubles, but luckily, most of my vision came back.” This very literal change in Scott’s vision still affects her and her photographic works.“Every day I am consciously aware of and thankful for my vision. I regained nearly normal eyesight after both surgeries. Because of the remaining double vision, I do need to turn my body more than my head to look left or right. And, I read with one eye closed, just like I take pictures. One eye is for close, the other for far away. Each eye sees colors a bit differently, so I have a choice.”“It is so thrilling to learn different ways to photograph and process, and my favorite has been macro flowers. Macro photography shows us hidden landscapes, sometimes populated with their own now visible creatures.” Scott adds that flowers celebrate life, something she has also learned to do since her surgeries. Scott also finds that she has not only become fascinated with floral subjects, but the very light that illuminates them. “Light hides and light reveals. It is the glow of backlight, the texture of sidelight, and the strike of front light, the last of the light and the first, especially when I am up all night. Sunshine shows textures, shadows, and drama, while cloudy days reveal shape and form,” she says. “I follow the light.”
6 years ago