Finding Calcutta: Marie Constantin’s photos of Mother Teresa


Finding Calcutta is an exhibit of photographs of Mother Teresa, taken by Marie Constantin. Ave Maria University is hosting the gallery on the second floor of the Canizaro Library until February 29th.

About the Photographer: Marie Constantin

Unbridled joy. Fierce determination. Unspeakable sadness. Life is a series of small, distinct moments during which anything can happen. And capturing these moments, one honest and revealing frame at a time, is the passion of Marie Bissell Constantin.

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Marie attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, graduating with a journalism degree — yet she did not own a camera until age 32. Today she is an internationally known, award-winning photographer in high demand for commercial, corporate, editorial and humanitarian assignments.  But she is best known for more than a decade of association with one of the twentieth century’s most respected and inspiring figures.

At a time when most young photographers would be struggling to build a portfolio, Marie accepted the opportunity of a lifetime: an invitation extended to only two American photographers to document the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s travels and work in the Eastern United States and Calcutta. Quickly gaining her subject’s trust and friendship, Marie captured Mother Teresa in rare private moments seldom seen by others. Upon Mother Teresa’s beatification by Pope John Paul II in 2003, one of Marie’s photos was chosen to hang in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican — the official photo for the Beatification Ceremony.  Today, Marie is completing a book of images and personal reflections from 13 years with Mother Teresa, and also speaks publicly about their time together.

Work with Marie only once and you’ll be convinced that she always gets the shot. “I’m very sure of my creative process and where to put myself to take a good picture,” she explains. “There seems to be a place in my brain that I can go to for inspiration … it’s not always easy, but once I’m there, I know it.” And this dedication to her art is equaled by her interest in the craft of photography: She recently studied with the pioneering black-and-white digital printmaker Jon Cone and is applying her advanced knowledge to the fine art prints she produces, shows and sells.

Camera in hand, one gets the impression that Marie Constantin’s passion could take her anywhere at any given time. If there’s an extraordinary moment to be recorded, it surely will.

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