I want to take this moment to thank you all for supporting my 365 project. When I began this journey 260+ days ago, I was sure I would not be able to identify enough photographs to fulfill my promise of posting a new photo every-single-day. When I reached 100 photos, I looked back in shock and realized I had surprised myself. When I reached 200 photos, I began to wonder if I would be able to find another 165 subjects worthy of your review. At 250 photos, I realized that I wanted to make sure I completed my commitment to both myself and my public statement about 365 photos. I began to think about where my lense was searching for meaning and how that connected to my personal views of the world.
As I complete the final 100 days of the 365, I am pleased to share a sneak preview of my next project: The Pillars.
Please join me for an exhibit of select photos from my 365 Project “The Pillars”. The show runs from October 1 – November 21, 2012 and the reception will be held on October 17 from 6pm – 8pm at United South End Settlement.
Two weeks ago I posted two fine art photos showcasing the beauty of a woman’s body. I was excited by some of the positive/negative offline chatter, which made me study harder and explore the history of photographing the human body even more. Today I share a bit of what I’ve learned and look forward to keeping the conversation going online.
The ARTIST Barbara Kruger asks:
When is something art and when is it obscenity? Where do you draw the line?
One recent blogger said:
“I don’t think a line can be drawn in the sand on this subject.
What some may consider acceptable art/nudity others may find distasteful…
I don’t think the debate over what is or is not art has ever been resolved but it would be nice to think it could be sorted here.”
The ARTIST Nancy Spero responds:
I’ve defined pornography as stuff that exploits women’s bodies, and particularly in a harmful way.
I agree with the artist Benny Andrews who weighed in on this debate (perhaps referring to the images of the nude as art)
”… but the other elements that make up an artistic objective would also come into play. Elements like form, line, color, shape, all the things that go to make up an artistic statement through different media. The subject matter is just one of those elements.”
He reminds us that: ” All of us bring experiences to what we look at and that helps determine what we see. The fundamentalist Baptists bring certain references to what they look at. A nonreligious person brings another set. That’s what’s so important about a free society. To allow different expressions.”
My photographs of nudes could best be summed up with the words of writer David Leavitt who said:
“I think they were meant to do all the things that art does-be beautiful formally …”
In Hubpage, M.T. Dremer weighs in on this debate:
“These are all things you’re probably familiar with; the Statue of David, the Venus de Milo and the Sistine Chapel. These are all classic pieces, universally agreed upon that they are, in fact, art. They also have something else in common; they all depict nudity. … but if you re-create that picture or sculpture, with a real-life model and take a picture of her or him, then that same exact image is no longer appropriate.”
So let’s keep talking!
The camera’s aperture is a doorway into my world of possibilities. Each artistic endeavor is built upon the four pillars of my identity. Each pillar bound within its own duality. I have begun the process of recording images for some of these pillars and others remain a work in progress. My 365 Project highlights examples from each area and my intention is to share a deeper experience with my audience with exhibits that focus on each separately and more intensely.
The first pillar joins Family and Ancestry. In each portrait of my family members I have a presence; the viewpoint, the perspective, and the contrast link me. I am a descendent of generations, not only of my family but the embodiment of the legacy of my people. As a photographer I take a chance to reclaim the narrative of my people, too often distorted, usurped, ignored and denied. Photography allows me to be the author of my own story. I become a cartographer of sorts- not merely documenting, utilizing photography to help me navigate my personal and public history.
The second pillar entwines Faith and Spirit. The prophet Jeremiah had faith that in the act of building- we could be rebuilt. With each creative challenge I find myself recreated. Taking in a world of wonder- every image that I encounter is first and foremost God’s image. At times taking pictures is a way to give thanks, a way to explore what it is being asked of me. When I take a picture, I embrace God’s own spirit of creation- where day after day, a new element emerged into the world to make it whole.
The third pillar of my photography embraces Nature and Landscape. Here, with my camera I am unencumbered by life’s daily demands, and hurts: the view of a lake, a waterfall, a spring, or the ocean; restores my hope and belief that “justice will come roaring down in a mighty stream (The Book of Amos).” With each photograph I can conjure up a moment of true peace.
The entanglement of People and Community sustains the fourth pillar. At times a person appears in a cacophony of chaos, at times there are harmonies that binds us one to the other. I point, I click, I take in an image. The camera’s lenses deliver new insights, allowing me to see my Community from a different point of view. I can focus on a gesture, a pattern, a moment in time. I can treasure the details, the daily stories, song, dance and spirit of my Community. I find respite from the troubles and challenges we are so often up against and I can relax, focus, and connect. My photographs of my community take me beyond the everyday fragmentation of our society. I am attuned to the strength of spirit: resilient and resplendent- and in the words of the poet: “the drive to connect the dream of a common language (Adrienne Rich).”
It’s said, “The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail (William Faulkner)”. My photographs are my testimony to all that I witness. These four pillars guide me to my inner self and move me to create the visual structure that I share with you daily.
Today I want to take the time to say Thank You for all the support and love I’ve received so far during my 365 photography project. Your constructive comments, retweets, reblogs, sharing and just plain “taking a look” (almost 10,000 views) have been so motivational and moving that some mornings I just get up and shout “Thank You” for giving me this opportunity to live my dream. Although the process has been difficult (but a lot of fun and a great learning experience) especially the title-ing and editing process. I’ve also learned a lot about my own insecurities and challenges however; I promise you I will keep trying my best daily and I will complete this project! Lastly a very special THANKS to my new friends from around the United States, Canada, Haiti, Australia, United Kingdom, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, France, Russian Federation, United Republic of Tanzania and Mexico.
Be blessed and have a great day/week.