Here is my two hours for today thinking about and working on, my art. What I have in my mind is a series of pictures I took a little over a year ago. I’ve entered this grouping in a number of photographic shows – to which I’ve had no success (not accepted). So, using this blog – here is what I want to say about these images.
When I went to my son’s graduation I saw many happy and proud families - as to be expected. What struck me was the juxtaposition of what I was seeing (in terms of those I don’t share ethnicity with), to images I have exposure to in media and in the arts (primarily photography). Why was this unexpected? The narrative of ethnicity seems to be portrayed predominantly in dire circumstances; images of healthy emotions not often seen – at least not by me.
As I sat waiting for my son to walk the stage I thought back to my photographic series “Objectification” in which I was challenging idealized beauty, most often seen in imagery of female personas, that reflect nothing of the individual being photographed. I rarely take pictures of people as I often wrestle with wanting to honor their identity without bringing my own prejudices to the image. (Though I know you cannot avoid this as a photographer – subject for another post perhaps.) I wondered why I have not seen images that surrounded me that day: images of pride, compassion, family support, love, care. Is there a reason why the narrative stays so firmly rooted in struggle, pain, and desolation? Is this what we expect a gallery worthy image to represent?
I don’t know the answer to that – maybe I just haven’t found the right venue for display – maybe I’m not the right person to elevate these images. In any case, here is what I saw – and I’d really like it to not be so unexpected.