HEATHER FIRTH, artist, writer and sexuality educator native to Northern California, began leading workshops and relationship counseling for women, men and couples in 1972. She is certified in Creative Therapy, trained seven years with the Institute of Human Abilities specializing in couples' psychodynamics, sexuality and interpersonal communications and holds a Bachelor of Science in Humanities from More University, California where she remained an affiliate instructor for twenty-one years. Heather maintained her private practice in association with the Murphy-Robbins Clinic of Sedona, Arizona and the Center for Healing and Recovery in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
EARTH EROTICA, Heather's fine art nature photography, is published worldwide in actress Kim Cattrall's HBO/AETN documentary film and book Sexual Intelligence; DVD film Coming of Age: From Bud to Flower educational program for mothers and daughters; Internet video campaign for UK Bowel Health and E-zine Nerve.com. International magazines include: Dutch Playboy, Netherlands; People In Groove, Italy; Ming Pao Newspapers Ltd., Canada and more.
Heather has been a featured guest on Global and Prime Television, The Life Network, CitiTV and SexTV of Canada, UK Channel Health, Metro TV and WBAI Radio, New York.
The intimate photographic metaphors of Earth Erotica and Heather's unique Heart of Loving counseling and workshops unify sexuality and spirituality within the sanctity of Nature.
My Biographical Tapestry
"Georgia O'Keeffe of Photography," "Modern Goddess of Eroticism," "Muse Extraordinaire," — throughout my lifework I have received many distinguished nicknames! Together with my photography, writing and counseling I enjoy world travel to elegant cities, primitive cultures and pristine wilderness in Asia, Europe, Central and North America, the Mediterranean and Middle East. With infinite fascination I greatly value adventuring beyond what is apparent, deep into the inner-landscapes of philosophy, conscious enlightenment and loving-kindness.
Born and raised in Northern California, I acquired my love of nature as a child roaming wild and free in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During my high school years I roamed free in the wilds of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area — the primary nexus of a legendary epoch: Hippies, Haight-Ashbury, the Vietnam war, peace rallies, assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Civil Rights riots, People's Park and the music, the incredible music — folk, jazz, soul, R&B, blues and British and American rock music converged to shape an indelible cultural revolution.
As a teenager during the era of the San Francisco Sexual Freedom League I was extremely fortunate to attend my first weekend-long sexuality class. I learned about my sensual body, how to perceive, give and receive pleasure. More importantly, I learned how to communicate, not only about sex and lovemaking (which are very different), but I also learned how to be genuine and kind within the everyday blessings and challenges we all experience with friends, intimate partners, our families, employers, business associates and colleagues, clerks and service people. Essentially everyone. Additionally vital, I learned how to talk about safe sex before it was too late: lifesaving against unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS. And, of priceless life-shaping consequence, I learned that I was responsible — no other person — for my sexual pleasure, health and safety.
In that first sexuality class I began to understand how sexual literacy, or the lack thereof (for women and men), dramatically influenced self-esteem, abilities to love and connect intimately, family dynamics and spiritual health. I decided the direction of my life that weekend. Very soon, however, I discovered that what I aspired to learn was not taught in university curriculums. In order to pursue my ambitions, after high school graduation I moved to Oakland, California to live in an experimental community designed to explore love, sexuality and relationships.
For the next seven years I participated in extraordinary residency research programs at the Institute of Human Abilities, where I specialized in couples' psychodynamics, sexuality and interpersonal communications. During my course of studies I began leading communication groups in 1972 and teaching weekend sensuality workshops in 1973. I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Humanities from More University, California in 1984 where I remained an associate instructor for twenty-one years. During that time I maintained a private practice, was an invited keynote and panel speaker and taught sexuality seminars in Northern, California. In addition, I continued my education with advanced cutting-edge workshops and retreats on intimacy, psychosexual dynamics, gender issues, alternative sexuality, lifestyles and holistic spirituality.
In 1994 the vast landscapes and spiritual mystique of the American Southwest beckoned. I moved to Sedona, Arizona with my then husband. In Sedona, I founded the LoveLife Center, joined the Murphy-Robbins Clinic as an associate counselor, acquired certification in Creative Therapy and originated and facilitated communication groups, an ongoing women's business group (four years) and my Heart of Loving weekend workshops.
Many years earlier, in 1981, I photographed my first sexy earth images (EE001
) while trekking the high mountain region of the Sinai Desert. I presented several slide shows of my trips in the Middle East and then stored the entire collection in an armoire for eleven years. After innumerable hikes, and purely by happenstance, I photographed a few more images of what I began to title my EARTH EROTICA
series. In 1996 I decided to intentionally build the Earth Erotica collection and planned a photography journey into the Four Corners region of the American Southwest: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Never having traveled into the wilderness alone I wanted at least one companion. My seventy-two-year-old mother was available and happy to join my expedition. She was in excellent physical condition from volunteer forestry work on backcountry trails in Yosemite National Park. We packed my Toyota 4x4 with supplies and drove east from California across the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Nevada deserts to southwest Utah. Itinerant travelers for three weeks, we hiked up to ten miles per day, shouldering camera gear, food, water, and protective clothing. On this journey, I learned that Earth Erotica is difficult to find. Mother Earth can be very shy! Our exhaustive efforts produced only thirteen new Earth Erotica images.
Throughout my ongoing quest for Earth Erotica, I advance my other two photography collections: WITHIN THE OBVIOUS and ARTISTRY OF CULTURE
). In my workshops and multimedia presentations Earth Erotica conveys the unity of sexuality and spirituality. With equal beauty and visual impact I utilize images from all three collections and my extensive library of photographs to portray the messages of our emotions, seasons of desire and fluidity of sensuality.
Ultimately, to expand the Earth Erotica collection and to generate enough photographs for a coffee table book, I had to muster the courage to forge into deserts and mountains alone. Thousands of road miles, solitary days spent searching isolated canyons and relentless determination shifted my fears of being alone in the wilderness into a liberating spiritual odyssey. My photographic process is very, very slow and meditative. Compositions appear through my lens much as a brush fleshes life into a painting. Often, for a single image, I spend hours riveted to one spot poised for moments of luminous light and quiet winds. I discovered absolute freedom in the long silent days — predawn to last light — with no one pressing me to move on.
During my first exhibitions in 1998 the numerous interpretations and evocative power of Earth Erotica surprised and inspired me. April 2000, in Toronto, Canada — coinciding with a solo exhibition for the du Maurier World Stage International Theater Festival in the elegant Harbourfront Centre — I first introduced Earth Erotica as a visual meditation in a Heart of Loving workshop at Toronto bookstore Good For Her. Enthusiastic responses to the visual meditation and several healing stories from women and men attendees sparked my determination to pursue the therapeutic phenomena and educational potential that these photographs engender.
The sensual landscapes of my Earth Erotica collection mirror our most intimate and universal humanity. I am ever grateful to fulfill my lifework and produce fine art that unabashedly and eloquently speaks directly to the human heart, imagination and psyche in a non-judgmental and universal language — Earth.