Dafne DeJesus: “Mother’s Helper”
Nature provides. Nature can also take everything back in a minute. What we all do to contribute to and take care of our Mother is absolutely essential to our survival as human beings.
Before I met Dafne DeJesus, I met her garden. A Catskills street corner profusion of deep pink cone flower, red bee balm, yellow perennial sunflowers, orange California poppy and brown-eyed susan, deep purple iris, magenta phlox, and lush green ferns. Even the blue chicory growing along the edge of her street somehow looked happier than any other in town. Months later, dragged along by her daughter who knew mine, she emerged from some foliage at a garden center, and I finally meet the green-thumbed goddess in person. Beautiful curves and colors of her flora tattoo caught my eye as she smiled at me.
From March to November, Dafne DeJesus is an environmental garden designer. She notes, “I feel like a ‘mother’s helper,’ someone helping Mother Nature along. I take care of her, and in turn, she will hopefully take care of me.” She warns, “Nature provides. Nature can also take everything back in a minute. What we all do to contribute to and take care of our Mother is absolutely essential to our survival as human beings. Especially if we want to have anything left to hand down to our children and future generations.”
When I asked about how her work intersects with motherhood, Dafne notes, “Being a mother can mean so many other things, and is not gender specific or biologically based. If you love nature, nurture it. Being a mother is about nurturing and tending, but is also about being fiercely protective and fighting for what we love, be it our country, our children, ourselves, or each other.”
Lately, in fact, Dafne has been stepping into more political activism, running for and elected to her local school board, speaking at women’s marches, and engaging in political, environmental, and social justice rallies and events. She reflects, “If you’re not helping someone, you fail the world. If you’re hateful and cruel, you’ll be lonely and loathed. Put out in the world only what you want to reap. A true leader doesn’t lead by making people fearful and feel small. A true leader helps people up and doesn’t put them down. Resist, every day, until you see change.”
Dafne’s photographs are remarkable for how they make the viewer stop, look, and feel. So often, someone’s nature photography looks kind of like everyone else’s nature photography; shots of sunsets, trees, butterflies, flowers tend to blend together and make you sure that whatever it was, it surely looked better in person. Dafne’s photography has a sharp, awake, meditative quality; we feel like she is saying, “Look!,” gently placing our eye to an exact angle in order to share her find. She explains, “I often see something that either appeals to my inner child and its wonder, or, something that makes me so in love with the natural world around us, it makes me feel like falling to my knees in gratitude.” – Ana C.H. Silva, Gallery Editor
Dafne DeJesus attended Fashion Institute of Technology. She works full time in Ulster County, New York, creating living tapestries with plant and garden material on private properties and estates. She is the proud single mom of two intrepid and fierce girls, and an equally intrepid, fiercely sweet rescue dog.