photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Shadowing

I awoke yesterday morning to this beautiful sight: shadows on my tent wall. I can’t describe my semi-obsession with shadows, even still- after years of photographing and studying them. When I’m surrounded by them, or even in their presence, I feel as if I’m with friends. They move and change and shift and breathe and swell and grow; so many times I’ve been too full of words to say anything and I’ve sat silently among them- as still as a stone- and they moved for me.

They tell stories. They have seen thousands of years and they speak- but not with words. In pictures.

Imageshot in monochrome/manual

Lately, I’ve been battling this inner identity war: the artist vs. the academic. My mind tells me that I must finish my degree and then pursue a second one in Criminology and Law. It’s my destiny: I’m going to help people. I’m going to stack up a few more certificates along the way (perhaps) and continue to strive in my work so that I can be of some value to others. But the academic is murdering the artist. The artist is now anorexic and throwing fits and lashing out- and really, do I really want to wait until I’m in my 50’s before I do gallery showings and such? Probably 80% of my closest friends have had numerous juried-in showings, publishings, and commercial successes. I want to work on my “Habitat” series and future showing, probably in New York, but I won’t ever do that as long as I’m in school. I simply cannot do both. I’m the first person to go to college in my family- at least on this side of Texas- and then there is only one who has beside me. I come from a family of women who believe that their roles do not cannot extend further than the bedroom and the kitchen, and then those roles are still firmly instilled into them by a man, or, patriarch.

My free-thinking, wild, Bohemian daughter (Heidi) opened my eyes to exactly how medieval that all is, and she is my strongest influence and inspiration over the years. She’s had her brow and septum pierced, sports a rather large tattoo on her left shoulder, has died her hair pink, green, yellow and blue (was blue in there too?) and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I know that I’ll probably be in school for another three years at least, and then what? Will I be fulfilled as a parole officer? A probation officer? My “artist self” is throwing a fit. I want to take pictures! I want to edit. I want to write poetry again- something I haven’t done in almost two decades. The artist isn’t dying, only sleeping, but I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. I want to record my songs and produce again- so many things I want to do that will simply have to wait.

And so I will.

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16 responses

  1. Jenn

    Could you maybe study part-time and persue your art as well? work-wise maybe with a small tweak to your course plans maybe you could work as an art-therapist with prisoners, psych patients or people in rehab??

    September 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    • You know, you’re actually right on track with what I want to do. I want to develop a “Photo-Therapy” program for people who can’t express themselves in a healthy way. My theory is that when we compose our surroundings (such as with a camera and lens), rather than allowing our environments to compose us (or should I say, “decompose” us), we are given the ability to control our thoughts, feelings, emotions and our actions on a deeper level. It serves two purposes: gives back control to what we feel we’ve lost in our lives, and also allows us to have a “voice” when we want to express ourselves, no matter how we feel.

      I’d like to develop and integrate that into an effective, working program at some point. As with most other things, I don’t have the time I need to explore these areas while I’m taking 5 classes (and raising two teens) so this is something I’ll need to work on after I graduate, definitely. I can’t go to school part-time or I’ll be in college twice as long, and it’s really starting to wear on me. (All work and no play!) So for now, I’m stuck in this hamster wheel.

      I appreciate your thoughts and words, Jenn. :0) it means a lot to me.

      September 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      • Jenn

        5 classes? Wow, between study and home/teens stuff you must never sleep. I have visions of someone who runs on a mix of caffeine, adrenaline and nicotine (no offence intended) I hope you are able to get where you want to be one day. Thank you for your comments on my photos.

        September 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      • Believe it or not, I only have one cup of coffee per day (never more than that- bad for the heart), and I quit smoking cigarettes 7 years ago, and, I’m a bit of a health freak. I’m waaaay too healthy for my own good..heheh..and, I sleep no less than 10 hours per night. I’m a lucky gal in that way. I drink very little alcohol and really, my joy comes from (Jesus) my kids, my art, and my studies. Yeah, 5 classes is pretty intense but I do love the challenge. I definitely never get bored.

        You’re welcome, by the way. You have some good B&Ws that you’ve done. Good coloured pics too, but my main attraction is B&W, so that’s what jumps out at me first. I think you have a knack for composition also though. Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope you have a great weekend. xo

        September 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm

  2. Jenn

    * Forgot to say, that shadow photo is STUNNING!! and your daughter sounds like a total blast.

    September 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm

  3. I loved your comment about shadows (and the photograph is beautiful)! I remember as a little girl (and even when I wasn’t so little) I’d get so absorbed in shadows on walls that my mind would wander off (much to the dismay of my teachers and parents) and create drawings and pictures and even narratives out of them. Nice to know I’m not the only one who does things like that! 🙂
    I completely understand what you mean about the artist inside trying to get out but having to back burner it in order to be practical. That’s been me for the longest time. First there was university (went into teaching so at the very least maybe I could be teaching art if I wasn’t making it). Now I have 3 little boys (ages 6, 3 and 1) so until very recently I haven’t had a spare moment to work on my art. Some nights I have so many ideas for drawings or paintings that I have trouble sleeping!
    Hopefully you are able to wake that artist soon and let it run wild! Good luck!

    September 7, 2013 at 12:03 am

    • Hey, that’s smart- going to art school so you can teach as a backup plan- and a great idea. (I have several friends who are art teachers/instructors.) I can see how three children might keep you from your art! I think as artists, we do what we have to do (in life) but still connect to that creative process wherever we go- even if it’s only in our heads. I remember when I was in jail once (back in my wild drinking days), and I made toilet paper roses for some of the women- they loved them! I also sketched their loved ones and wrote poems for their boyfriends (drew pictures of their kids), etc. for commissary such as extra coffee, sweets, smokes (back then, I still smoked) long john underwear, extra toilet paper (priceless!) and more towels- I didn’t lack anything in there. :0) I’ve just finished Plath’s biography and have read that she would get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to write for several hours. (Maybe something like that is in order.)

      Well I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you create! Hope you have a great weekend. xo

      September 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

  4. Interesting idea, I find walking around with my camera and only thinking about taking images to be very relaxing.

    September 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

    • I think it kicks off the same chemicals in the brain as actually taking pics. I’m seldom relaxed though when I’ve got my camera in my hand. I’m excited, mostly, and my imagination is popping like popcorn- always turning and turning- moving things around in my mind, bending them this way and that like a puzzle. (There’s a lot of excitable energy.)

      September 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

  5. Hey girl. Sounds like you are getting overwhelmed. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote about. First of all, I have no doubt…and I mean NO DOUBT ..that you would have many issues taking 10 classes at a time. Your just that kind of person that will find a way to make it happen without complaint. However, you must be careful having this characteristic as it can cause you to get burned out before you know what’s happened. I have a very type a personality. I feel the need to “complete things.” I get so focused on the goal of completing things that I don’t really stop to ask myself where I am going with them. I was raised to believe that the only way to make it was to go to college. Watching my mother raise me (without a college education) pretty much let me know that college was the only option if I didn’t want to live like her. Therefore I got stuck on the idea that I needed the highest degree possible. Yesterday, I was researching schools for Masters degrees. Why? I have really no idea other than I am so desperate to make it. I think you and I have that in common. We should not lose ourselves in this one fact though. There is more out there and a lot of times there are other ways of getting to it. I say finish up this Associate Degree and then take a breather. Take a semester off. Yes, I know that sounds extremely hard and impossible for an amazingly driven person like yourself lol. But, if you do, you could do more photography, really think about where you are going, and re evaluate what makes you happy. Having a degree is important, YES. However, I can assure you that you will look back and have so many regrets if you let go of that part of you that makes you who you are. Find a way to balance it. Don’t panic due to age. I mean look at Judge Judy. Her show is rated over Oprah Wimphreys and she is like in her 70’s hahah! You have plenty of time. Just remember to breath.

    September 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    • Thanks for the careful and in-depth comments, M&M. :0) That means a lot to me. You know, I feel more at a crossroads than “overwhelmed”- now last semester I was waaay overwhelmed. Not so much this semester- I’m pondering the direction I want to go in though, and I know I can’t do everything I’d like to do. I’m an artist! I have to “create”, but there’s a reason that we’re called “starving artists”..heheh..the money doesn’t come easily. I’ve had more than 70 sales (prints, etc.) in the past few years but they don’t pay the rent, so, I need to do the career thing too. (My main gripe is just not enough time for everything.) Aside from all of this, it’s really good to see you! I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. Glad you’re doing well. :0)

      September 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm

  6. Hi Birgitta!

    I can relate to your conundrum. A long time ago, I really wanted to do film stuff. I wanted to write and design, but I didn’t think I was a strong enough person to make it in that type of industry. People kept telling me I was too sensitive and would get eaten alive, and I believed them. I knew I wanted to help people, so, I went on and tried to do other stuff, but I felt pretty miserable.

    I met a friend who needed some help producing videos for a non-profit organization, then she introduced me to the world of grants… and I am back to doing artsy/ creative stuff. It’s more like advertising, but I definitely get excited by the creative aspect of it! I am constantly worried I’m not good enough, and terrified of criticism, but I have never felt more fulfilled.

    I’m not sure what my point is here….hahaaa, but you are an amazing artist, and the world is a much better place with your art in it, so I hope your artist continues to thrive!

    P.S. I haven’t been on-line for a while and missed you!

    September 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

    • I have really missed you, Amy. :0) You know, after receiving my 2nd degree (a few years from now), I’ll be moving in the areas of grants too. (Also, there’s the Fullbright to consider.) And did you know that I actually wanted to get into advertising some years ago? It’s attractive to me- the creative designing part. As far as the film stuff- you totally have what it takes to make it in that industry. People shouldn’t confuse quiet people for “weak”. I could picture you taking somebody’s head off if you had to. 🙂 You have a quiet strength about you though, but I don’t see you as timid at all. I think you have a boatload of talent! It’s hard to tap in to the right areas at the right times, and when you’re talented, as you are, in several areas- it makes it even trickier. I have 6 or so avenues I want to explore, but, like Sharon Osborne says, “Pick ONE THING, one thing you’re really good at- and stick with it.” My problem is that I have about 5, or 6 that I enjoy equally! (Singing, writing songs, the poetry thing, the photography thing…etc. etc.) I feel like a 5 headed monster…heheh..

      Anyway, it’s a rare treat to have feedback from you! I have you on a bit of a pedestal I think. You’re awesome. :0)

      September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      • Thank you so SO much for your kind words and ongoing encouragement! I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately, and you really lift me up!! I appreciate that more than I can say!

        I understand what you mean about wanting to pick ONE THING, but loving 5-6! I love your 5-headed monster metaphor. HAhaha. I feel like that, too. Sometimes I’m scared I’ll never be good at anything because I don’t devote all my time to the one thing…design or write? Write or design? And, I should have started doing both eons ago!

        I am so grateful for you. YOU are awesome! And such an inspiration. 🙂

        September 13, 2013 at 6:53 am

  7. Good grief, I’m only now finding your comment here- so sorry, Amy. I have no doubt that whatever you do decide to do, you’re going to be great at it. :0) You’re a mega-talented girl! I’m sure you can design the heck out of things but really, I think your greatest gift is with the pen. 🙂 Like I said when I first read your post- you are without a doubt, the funniest person I’ve ever read. You’re freaking hilarious…but not only that- a really talented writer!

    Do yourself a favour and take the time you need to rest and get back on your feet. And also, don’t be afraid to cry and fall apart! I like to think of children: they laugh often, because they cry often. They make friends quickly because they forgive quickly. A strong person is made up of millions of fractured pieces. 😉

    Be well, and take good care of yourself!
    xoxo

    September 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

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