Monday, September 29, 2014

Who are you looking at? Looking at Euguene Richards

One of the many things I have learned in school at Savannah College of Art and Design is the importance of finding artist who you admire and can also inform your work.  To look at their work and to follow their careers has away of influencing your work.  Your eyes are trained to see in new and different ways as you engage their work.  You are not inclined to copy them but rather to see your work in new ways as your work engages their work in the process of your creating work.

Eugene Richards inspires me in so many ways.  One of the things I really enjoy about his work is his sharing his journey as he creates his work.  He allows you to walk with him as he creates because he so transparent.  His images are paired with his writings and his writings are a combination of diary, commentary on his pictures and his engagement with his subjects.  

Richards takes time with his projects and builds relationship with his subjects.  One thing I have learned from him is to take your time.  I am always in hurry, trying to accomplish as much as I can in the time that I have. Richards has taught me to slow down.  Take time to see the light; be conscious about your composition; think about what you are seeing and what you want to show via the image you create. I hear Richards as I seek to see what I hope to capture as I make photos. Who are you listening to?  Who is guiding you?  Whose in your head and eye?  Whose is inspiring you not to recreate them but to become you? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Considering Jeremiah: Rev. Wright is Right

I don’t claim to know Rev. Jeremiah Wright well.  What I do know is the times I have bee in his presence I have been mesmerized by his brilliance, his love for a liberative God in Jesus and his love for people. He is so accessible.  Anyone can walk up to him, talk to him and you can see how he cares for them.  He gives them his full attention.  He listens and looks with a pastors heart.

Rev. Wright isn’t into celebrity he is into to people.  This image represents how I see him.  As I was taking pictures last Wednesday night at Ebenezer Baptist Church Rev. Wright took time to greet and talk to everyone in line.  He gave special attention to each kid that came through the line to shake his hand.  He bent down and talked to them and he asked, “Do you want a picture?”  The kids would smile, because they had felt the genuine love Rev. Wright had for them.  He would take time to pose with them and take the picture.  

Above all Rev. Wright is a pastor with a pastor’s heart. He cares for people and it shows.  You can feel the love when you are around him.  I thank God for pastors like Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.  When we love God by definition we are called to love people.  How do you know what know about Rev. Wright?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From Ray Rice to Reality: What do we see and what do we do?

@Donna Ferrato from Living With The Enemy
While we react to the horrible criminal act of violence by Ray Rice, as we should, lets us not miss what we don’t see everyday.  The camera caught Ray Rice but what is it that the camera does not catch that happens everyday / night?  A few facts:
  •      1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  •      Women ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence
  •      Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner
  •       Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes
  •       Domestic violence is most likely to occur between 6 pm and 6 am.
  •       More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home[1]

What happened to Janay Rice is happening in the homes of our families and neighborhoods every night; in homes, after dark and both females and children are victims of this horrible crime.  There are no video cameras posted to record the events of violence / abuse but the data is clear the crime is occurring.  Do we see it?  Do we act?
@Donna Ferrato from Living with the Enemy
While we should be upset about what we saw on video when Ray Rice committed a violent crime against Janay Rice let us continue to be equally outraged about what is happening in homes around this country, night after night.  We have to talk about it and hold these violent criminals accountable for their actions.  While Ray Rice must pay, all the other criminals must pay and the victims need our support as they seek freedom, justice and healing.
@Donna Ferrato from Living with the Enemy
This isn’t new as much as it is news.  I am reminded of my life growing up and seeing violence in my neighborhood.  I remember seeing this story on the big and small screen. Who can forget that movie from 1991 Sleeping with the Enemy that made us all sit in the theatre in horror.

Or the 1984  movie The Burning Bed , based on a true story of Francine Hughes, that was so hard to look at but once again it told the story that we needed to see and as a result call us to action.

I am also reminded of the 1991 book by photographer, Donna Ferrato, Living With The Enemy, a book that makes us look at domestic violence for the evil that it is.  Ferrato’s works makes us stare at the horrible affects and effects of domestic violence / abuse.
As we react, accordingly to the violent criminal act of Ray Rice, let us come together to continue to call this criminal act out in our communities, families and faith communities.  Ray Rice being banned from the NFL and the CFL sends a message and that message must also be translated at the grassroots level that we, you and I, will not tolerate or be silent when it comes to the crime of domestic violence / abuse in our midst.   What are you, what am I, going to do to make sure that there are no Ray Rices in our /my midst? How will we see what the camera is not capturing, but we know is occurring, and act accordingly?


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dare to Be Different! A Tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer
We live in a world that demands conformity.  We are rewarded for being average, for fitting in and simply going along to get along.  To be average is to be mediocre; it is to be in that big hump in the bell curve.  I don’t think it was in the creator’s intent for us to be average when we were created.

We are each a designer original.  We were designed differently to live do that unique thing we were created to do.  Over time we are taught to stop being us and be like everyone else.  When you choose to standout teachers will say, “You aren’t like the rest of the children.”  Our reply should be, “We weren’t designed to be like the rest of the children and I am not going to allow you to put me in that box.  I am going to be the unique and different.  I am going to be the me the creator created me to be.”
As we get older it doesn’t stop.  We go to jobs on the daily that demand we fit and do what is expected of us.  If we do what is expected we will never do the unexpected, the unusual, or the extraordinary. If we always follow the rules we will never change the rules of the game.  I refuse to fit in!  I refuse to do what you want me to do but rather I will do what I was created to do the way I was created to do it. 

Don’t expect people to understand you or what you do.  You have to understand you and what you do.  You have to make sense to you.  When you dare to be different people will look at you funny, they will talk about you, they will not understand you and in many cases they will not respect you.  Their disrespect comes from their disdain for you because you have chosen not to play the game they are average at playing on the daily. 

Today I say to you dare to be different.  Dare to express yourself?  Dare to do that thing that others said you couldn’t do or shouldn’t do!  Do that thing that when you tell people you are doing they look at you like you are crazy.  What is it about you that makes you standout?  What is it about you that you need to amplify that says “I’m different and my difference makes a difference and makes this world a better place; more just, more loving, more kind and more creative? What is different in you that society has talked out of you? 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Deciding on What's Next: This Is Your Journey!

Yesterday, after worship, one my fellow church members who sits next to Vanessa and I asked, “So where have you been this summer, we’ve missed you.”  I replied, “I have been shooting pictures and making videos working on my degree at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).”  He replied, “I thought you already had your doctorate.” “I do but I am doing an MFA in photography.” It was as if he were implying that I should be done with school because I have a PhD and DMin.   Degree completion(s) are only a part of the journey they are not the end of the journey.  I firmly believe that we should be life long learners.  This doesn’t mean we have to keep enrolling in degree programs but it does mean that we should continue to advance our knowledge, skills and passions in some kind of formal sustained process.

Tonight I will present my summer work for my class at SCAD.  This will be the official end to my first year of studies at SCAD.  Being trained as an artist has been both challenging yet very rewarding.  When I think back over the year I am reminded how I have grown as an artist.  From the very first quarter I have been pushed.  The professors at SCAD have made me look inward in search of my creative sources.  It has been an inward journey to produce art that is created with the intent of being shared publicly.

At SCAD we are constantly creating art to be critiqued by our peers and professors. This isn’t writing the paper, turn it in and get the grade.  The private dialogue between professor and student is not what happens at SCAD.  What I appreciate most about SCAD is that leaning, developing and growing, as an artist is truly a communal project.  I have enjoyed being apart of my new community because in this community I have found new life, new energy and an excitement about the demands of my work. 

I would wish that everyone could experience what I have experienced this past year.  This isn’t new to me because I have committed my life to navigating my journey. This thing is about the journey; the joy of the journey is challenging you to become yourself.  This is a process of constant discovery, hard work and never resting on what you did yesterday.  What we did yesterday is a part of the journey and informs the next leg of the journey but if we stop to long to read what we wrote we might never write again. 

I choose to continue to write my story.  The journey isn’t over yet and I thank God for leading me to SCAD.  Where are you being led?  What is that next stop on your journey that will help you see more, be more and do more of what is in you that is trying to get out?