[Or, “What kind of art school would this be without occasional self-portrait and self-reflection assignments?”]
Today I was being interviewed [for an undisclosed purpose], and I was asked to describe myself. At first I thought, “Hmmm, well, what does it say on my facebook profile? It says I’m always ‘having epiphanies.'” And it’s true!
As the questioning continued, I thought long and hard about what having epiphanies about life and creativity have to do with one another. I thought about my passion for inspiring people, and how I love to see others inspiring people as well. For example, the David Lynch Foundation has created a program for teaching students how to meditate, and has had some phenomenal results with reducing and even eliminating violence in schools!
So, one might ask (and my interviewer did), “So, why don’t you teach meditation? Why photography?”
Well, that is a good question. I feel that meditation, yoga, any form of relaxation and centering that helps me to focus is useful in that it clears some of the clutter from my mind. But my real epiphanies are about tangible, physical results in the world I live in. There are many people who are great at clearing their minds and helping others to do so. I am better at pondering things and coming up with creative solutions and ideas. My real goal is to inspire people through example and encouragement – therefore, my ability to meet my larger goals of affecting the world relies upon my willingness to pursue my own success.
Often, I tell the story about when I was a small child, and how I would become completely overwhelmed by my existence in a moment. Everything felt utterly magical. I remember seeing things on the street where I grew up in Cleveland – everyday things like a tree or the way a wire fence had been bent down over time – and finding them so beautiful and perfect that I wished they could be recorded forever. That is why I am a photographer. It has taken me years to identify that story as the most important story of my career, and maybe even my life. And as time goes on, I find better and better ways to explain what I didn’t have words for when I was small.
I believe that everyone has a dream like this. Maybe they don’t remember what it is. Maybe it comes to them as a recurring thought. Maybe they never lost sight of it at all, and they are always working towards it – then they are lucky. I think for most people, it is something that escapes them a lot of the time, having been socialized to prioritize other responsibilities. In the pursuit of this dream, of creating art out of the beauty of my life experience, I hope that I inspire people along the way who are trying to come back into contact with their dreams.
Just that thought keeps me going when I have been working too hard, when there are archives to go through, submissions to be made, and photos due to several clients. Each time I interact with anyone, it is a chance for them to come into contact with evidence that it is all right to live your dream. I take that as a pretty serious calling to live that evidence!
The interviewer asked, “What is your biggest dream?”
And I said, “I want to change the world!”
I blurted it out, and then thought to myself, “Doesn’t everyone?” I really do believe that we all have a gift inside that feels large enough to impact the world, and so we all really do have a sense that we might and could. Whether your environment is big or small, the energy you bring to it really does make a difference. And that environment is related to others, and those to others, and on and on.
So, we’re all changing the world all the time. Isn’t that worth making art about? I sure think so.