Athena Delene’s photography verifies the adage that a picture speaks a thousand words. But the words aren’t formed at random or clumped in a word cloud. No. They are carefully organized into tall tales and legends about the residents of Eugene, Oregon. Every single image she posts on her Instagram or adds to her website could be a writing prompt centered on a fully realized character. “Write 300 words about the world’s greatest cowboy.” “Pen a fight scene starring the Slug Queen.”
When you talk with Delene, it becomes clear that the 24-year-old, self-taught artist has an enthusiasm and openness that invites subjects to fully realize their narrative potential at the end of her lens. She exudes positivity for life, in general, but reserves the highest potency for her community. When I contacted her about this profile, Delene said, “Oh, this is such a fun project exactly what I needed this week.” As we spoke during our interview, I got the impression that she is able (unlike the rest of us jaded souls) to view most things as “a fun project.”
Eugene is a mid-sized town that varies very little from other towns of its size in the Pacific Northwest, but Delene makes it seem like it is exclusively populated by original, vibrant souls. Legends in the making. When we spoke, she told me about her narrative approach, her community, and the one thing she felt everyone who is interested in photography should try.