ABOUT AMY THOMPSON Avishai

Amy is the founder of The Center for Mindfulness Photography, offering classes, retreats and workshops. She is known for her sensitive, spare and nuanced portrayals of people from all walks of life and the natural world.

She brings to her teaching over two decades of experience as an educator, mindfulness practitioner and photographer. Amy was raised across several continents, from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe and North America.

She was exposed to mindfulness and meditation while photographing in Southeast Asia in 2003. Her own mindfulness practice deepened as time went on and she came to recognize the similarities and synergy between mindfulness meditation and her creative process. Amy soon began introducing mindfulness practices to students at the Griffin Museum of Photography.

In her 20s and 30s, Amy photographed for The New York Times and other newspapers, and was featured in National Geographic. She also completed documentary projects abroad, including a Fulbright project about the education of girls in rural areas of Morocco.

In 2018, Amy moved to Western Massachusetts and began teaching Mindfulness Photography. She is a 2023 graduate of a two-year intensive mindfulness meditation teacher certification program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, in partnership with the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley.

AMY'S CV

“Amy’s workshop was as inspiring in its depth as it was in its simplicity…”

~ Liza Semler, educator

PHOTO GALLERIES OF AMY'S WORK

Young Mennonites

As we sit side by side at a church service in Ohio, I’m politely told that this time is between us and God. Photos aren’t permitted. Later that Sunday, I’m invited to a special multigenerational family gathering. Again, no photos allowed.

Ohio is home to one of the country’s largest Mennonite populations.  Christian Anabaptists often mistaken for the Amish,  non-violence, strong community and simplicity of life are central beliefs.

I was given permission to document a small group of families. I photographed sparingly in the southeastern towns of Zanesville, Logan and Carbon Hill.

I appreciated the quiet, gentle rhythm of their days– at home, school, church, work, softball games and picnics. I was especially drawn to the children as I observed how faith seemed to permeate all aspects of their lives.

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Within These Walls: Educating Girls in Rural Morocco

This series is about daily life at a Dar Taliba, a girls’ dormitory, located in a small dusty town between the tourist spots of Marrakesh and Essaouira. I wanted to take an intimate look at the lives of ordinary Moroccan girls taking part in a historic process to free themselves from marginalization and illiteracy.

I lived in Morocco as a young girl and, supported by a Fulbright grant, I returned in 2004, just as reforms to the Moudawana, or Family Code, were addressing women’s rights and gender equality.

Because the challenge of educating girls is especially difficult in the countryside, the king of Morocco has supported a national initiative to build dormitories near secondary schools to help girls in remote areas continue their education. “We have focused our interest, first, on rural women,” the king said, “the group most affected by the ills of illiteracy and poverty – two issues I firmly believe are at the heart of human rights, just as they may constitute structural obstacles to democracy.”

Although the dormitory was designed for sixty students, one hundred and eleven girls, between the ages of 13 and 18, boarded there. Some were able to go home on the weekends, like Rachida, who brought me to her family’s farm. Many others, because of finances or distance, stayed at the dormitory for weeks at a time.

Within the walls that separate girls from the public space of boys and men, I discovered a hidden world. I photographed at the dormitory over a period of several months, spending much of my time simply being with the students. We played volleyball, worked on their French homework, shared meals and slept next to each other in the bunks. Late at night, we danced, and I was included in their talk about boyfriends and secrets.

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Cambodia

These photographs are part of a larger project made in Cambodia in 2001 and 2003. They reflect moments in the lives of people in and around the vast ancient Khmer temples of Angkor, a UNESCO world heritage site.

I sought to understand the faith, the effects of tourism, and the legacy of genocide and violence in daily life. I found villages hidden along narrow paths in the jungle and also photographed around the well-known Angkor temples. Research, intuitive wandering and an openness to allow one connection to lead to another — that’s how these photos came about.

 

 

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Nelsonville

One hundred years ago Nelsonville was a thriving Ohio town along the Hocking River. The area’s rich natural resources of salt, iron ore, clay and coal fueled a vital economy, linking the town to the outside world by canal and railroad networks. The town’s famous Star Bricks were exported across the world. At the turn of the 19th century, however, the nature of industry in America changed, leaving Nelsonville behind.

Today, most of the good jobs have left and poverty levels are high. Despite the presence of two colleges, most of the population has a level of education significantly below the state average. There are rough neighborhoods and police cruisers roam the streets.

But there is also a different side to Nelsonville. The monthly “Final Fridays” attract visitors to the galleries, restaurants, cafes and the opera house on the square. By revitalizing the town center and making Nelsonville a destination, many hope to shed the city’s image as a place people simply pass through.

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Solo Images

Assignments and personal work from Ohio to Southeast Asia… and in between.

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Holding On, Letting Go

A contemplation about love, loss and the passage of time.

As I watch my daughters grow in the years following my parents’ passing, I learn to accept ambiguity and live with unanswered questions.

Tired but open to life, I ask myself, “where do I go from here?”

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In-Progress

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