Yesterday I wrote a post that received a lot of love, here, about May 15, 2012.
It never fails that every time I go home I will run into somebody that asks me why. Why art school? Why art? For a long time I didn’t have an answer (actually I probably still don’t) other than I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
I respect small-town life, I love it. I love having a sense of community, an understanding of hard work and manual labor, knowing where it is food comes from and feeling safe and secure during evening strolls. More than that, I love my childhood there, that my family picked this little map dot to call home. I am from blue-collar america, where you work in a factory or on a farm and nobody looks down on you for it. Yet here I am sitting in Columbus missing the country, questioning it all (once again).
It took me a long time to be proud of telling people back home that I am an artist when they asked what I do. I believe that this is where my infatuation with darkroom photography came from. My whole life I was taught to value hard work, perseverance and earning your keep. Somethings worth seemed to be reliant on the amount of time it took to be earned. The darkroom gives me that, film gives me that. Spending hours to make only a handful of prints validates my practice. It’s not easy, it’s not instant gratification and thats what makes it rewarding. Using my hands to make an object that exists in our physical world connects me to home.
Awhile back I was complaining to somebody about the city. They asked me why I was doing all this, to which, without a second thought, I responded: “Somebody has to be documenting this way of life”. That was the moment it all clicked. I have nothing but the highest respect for the members of small-town america who keep their communities, this country in operation: the farmers, factory workers, teachers, mailmen, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, coaches, railroad workers, pipeliners, nurses, road crews and so many countless others I’ve failed to mention.
Even with all of that admiration, none of those could ever be my role in that community. That became very obvious early on. This summer my mother found the home video where I received my first camera. It was my fourth christmas (I believe). You should have seen the huge smile on my face when I pulled that drugstore dollar disposable camera out of my stocking. I fell in love.
It wasn’t until recently, this semester, that I really began to feel like this whole “art thing” was the right thing. That it was never really a choice, but a necessity. I guess that’s how you know your an artist, when you literally have to be making something at all times. When your contentment comes from creating. Writing about Audy yesterday confirmed this. So many people saw that, they remembered it and they connected to it. It brought those affected back into the same headspace if even for a brief moment in time.
I have so many stories inside of me that need to be told. Some are tiny and seemingly mundane, but important nonetheless. It physically hurts me having all of these words and images bottled up inside. I have to make them and I have to tell about these memories and experiences, this place. All of my art is directly connected to home, it’s all highly personal, a piece of my soul. I like to believe that it’s my contribution to a small town society. That my love for their stories and my need to tell them keeps them alive and relevant. It allows a rural voice to be heard.
Yesterday I began putting words and photographs into a book. This is my own assignment for Christmas break. I am hoping to bring importance back to the little, slow moving, snippets of life we far too often overlook. I am hoping that through telling a lot of little stores, a much bigger story will make itself known.