Monday, September 6, 2010

Lost and Found in Art

I think I engage my art as a means to finding parts of myself that had become lost, or temporarily misplaced, or forgotten about. Maybe they are parts of myself that were alive when I was a child, and then lost their vitality somewhere between growing pains and adulthood. Maybe they are parts of me that were suffocated by challenging circumstances or relationships. Maybe they are just new sides of me that spontaneously appeared as a result of expressing myself through art, and are looking for their first outlet. Or maybe they are old parts that are being resuscitated, and the photograph is acting as a medic, bringing them back to life.

In creating a photograph I feel as if I am creating a safe space in which to express myself as freely as I’d like to. It is an arena into which any parts of my being can feel welcomed into, and find a voice. Yes, my photographs are like my voice! It is a voice that has a lot to say, and is grateful for the opportunity to do that that through my art. I am most grateful, also, for those who hear my voice; those encouraging others who have appreciated my photography and thus inspired me to create more. This is especially meaningful to me, as I contrast it to times in my life in which I did not feel the expression of my voice was that supported. Through making and sharing a photograph, my voice is found, my voice is expressed, and it is heard. We all need to feel heard in life.

To me, sharing art is a way in which human beings openly hear each another. Existentialist philosopher, Paul Tillich once wrote that “the first duty of love is to listen”. I believe that in creating and sharing art, we come in touch with the parts of our selves, and others, that are most desirous of participating in a loving relationship. At least for myself, I experience the creating of a photograph as my traversing a path that aims at reaching my very core. I believe everyone’s core is love.

Maybe I engage my art to explore this belief that we are all made of love. To reach a part of myself that is unshakable. In attempting to do so, I inevitably encounter other parts of me that aren’t as solid: fleeting emotions, changing perspectives, temporary wounds. And I offer each and every one of them a release through the images I create. Once expressed, I find they are much more peaceful, and move out of the way so I can connect with something deeper. It is almost as if some parts of me need to be lost, so that others can be found.

In a single photo session then, I can potentially both loose and find myself. Sometimes over and over again. This is the creative process I am so addicted to! And what I find when making art is truly unlimited! I think this holds true for every artist: our creations are like doorways that open into an endless world of discoveries. Perhaps we just need to remember to loosen our holds on those parts of us that relate to limits, so that we can experience the boundlessness before us, each time we make art. In this context loosing takes on a positive meaning. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” It is this deeper understanding of self that I find each time I lose myself in my art.

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