last week i was able to attend a PhotoShop conference for 3 days in Vegas. while there, i was privileged to sit in on a lecture by this photographic legend, Jay Maisel. he spoke of light, shape, gesture, and perception. he reminded me of the importance of always being ready, turning around (because there’s a picture in the other direction as well), and to not be a one trick pony - if i am fascinated with minimalism (which i am) to learn to photograph the complex, if i lean towards photographing the flat geometrics i need to also be able to photograph the infinite scale and depth… in other words he reminded me - to see.
one particular collection of his work that he shared with us really resonated with me… "Two weeks after 9/11, still numb, depressed, and disconnected (as we all were), I had to go to ground zero. I took my camera but I had no idea what I was going to see, do or photograph. I just had to be there; to bear witness to what had happened and was happening. This is a record of some of what I saw."
this week we have been flooded with a sea of red, in support of equality, freedom, and rights bestowed to man on this earth. i am happy to see such an outpouring of love and support to my fellow man. i feel it is only by and through love that we can conquer any hate or fear, and that we can see one another as our loving God sees each of us. God is love. and this is my symbol. this is my declaration. this is in whom i put my support and trust.
may we all remember this easter weekend, this Red Friday, and equally exclaim in enthusiasm our precious sea of red by carrying our symbols, even the cross, upon which he died.
Upon the cross he meekly died For all mankind to see That death unlocks the passageway Into eternity. Upon the cross our Savior died, But, dying, brought new birth Through resurrection’s miracle To all the sons of earth.
i noticed the anxiety i felt within myself as i watched NEXT: a primer on urban paintinga documentary movie currently on Netflix about the movement and art form of urban art (here’s the trailer). the art moves me, it speaks to me. there is genius by many artists, on the walls, all over the world. i am blown away at the creative solutions and ways that some of the artists are communicating. the tongue-and-cheek commentary of banksy is brilliant i love that perspective. they see things differently. they take the ordinary and mold it and reintroduce it into the world. they literally alter and shape the landscape like an architect (take the artist “AKIM” for example).
but there’s another opposing side to this art form that equally disturbs me. truthfully i think the majority of the quality of urban art sucks. in a very real sense the evidence of their skills and their experience are written on the walls. and today i realized this is very much a reflection of many things in the creative world, and all the different mediums of how we express ourselves. it’s a reflection of where we are going as a people - and the kids are writing it on the walls! as more and more people are connected by the internets across the globe, new york, paris, berlin, sao paulo, montreal, japan, wherever, the ability to express yourself creatively grows more and more, and the ability to have that expressive artwork received is limitless, within seconds! this results in an overwhelming sea of mediocrity and that is what most people see. welcome to the digital age and the 21st century. the amateur writers who scratch their names into the history and beauty of an old street, turn it to trash. the beautiful streets of europe, with centuries of dust, have been tagged with scratchy painted unskilled hands. if it were up to me, i’d want only the great artists to write on walls. they bring more depth and vision and perspective to a wall and make it become even more beautiful…but who am i to say who can paint and who can not? isn’t that part of the artform? isn’t it is a growing and evolving and breathing and moving and changing and rebelling artform? is it not an artform born from action and then product? what kind of action would result if we are to put limits onto the art, wouldn’t that only create more rebellion, which leads to more growth, which leads to better art, and more creative thinkers finding new ways to see and solve problems? when are we going to finally accept this? urban art is an art that will never die and will continually evolve. so, what do i learn from the streets and the relationship of the pro and the amateur? the masters would not exist without the apprentice, one is always pushing the other. and this is good. our art, the art from the kids, will continue to grow and evolve. and as much as i hate the product the majority produces, i am inspired by the growth that they bring and push. i am inspired by their voices and their impulsive reactions. the pretty fish would not exist without the sea.
on a much more broader and poignant scale, we need to wake up and notice WHY there is writing on the walls. their voice is a voice from their communities. when they speak they show us their culture. their hand is still a human hand that writes on the walls. in addition to the internets connecting all the creatives and artists, even more so it is connecting the hungry capitalist and their greedy machines of commercialization. sadly, our earth is no longer composed of cultures but has now become one community, one country, one body of people, one cheap product after another cheap product. plastic food. plastic logos. plastic brands. plastic people. the individuality of our cultures and heritages is being snuffed and replaced by names like mcdonalds and coca-cola and nike…so what do the kids on the streets do in reaction to this? they rebel. they have paint. they speak. and they write their names on the wall. this is you. this is me. and who are you? and where is your place? and what are you doing about it? the kids are writing on the walls, it’s time you started reading.
photo is from my camera phone that i shot while i was in Puerto Varas, Chile. it is from a street artist named “cometelo” (eat it). eat it kids. eat it. ha.
”she be’s like a donut when she licks her pee-pee.” said my five year old daughter as our wiener dog was cleaning itself. and as her father, i couldn’t be more pleased at her use of a poetic metaphor. :)
"metaphor is the lifeblood of all art." "everything you create is a representation of something else; in this sense, everything you create is enriched by metaphor." - twyla tharp