What did you do this year?

From left: Working on a blog post at LOOK3, my third birthday tattoo (of an archaeopteryx), practicing my wedding speech.

I finally picked up my journal a few days ago and immediately wrote this question: “Why haven’t I been writing?”

Over the more than 20 years I’ve kept a journal, this question has come up a lot. I know by now that I am constantly flowing through cycles where I will discipline myself to write every day, feel naturally compelled to write once a week, or will not write at all for months. Yet I’m still trying to figure out why this happens when it does.

If you had to choose one word to describe my work, it would probably be “writer.” I edited my high school newspaper, studied magazine journalism in college, and have written for magazines, blogs, and creative clients ever since. (And aren’t we all writers now? I must write around 100 emails, text messages, and Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr updates a day.)

But I more often describe myself as an editor. Because, for me, writing has always been about filtering the world around me through my own thought process, then retelling it in a way that facilitates understanding. I know the root of this lies in my personal journaling — where I am most often trying to work out what’s going on inside myself by putting it on a page, and therefore examining it from a slight distance.

So, getting back to my original question, I know that I write less when I am not in extreme emotional turmoil (which I thankfully haven’t been) and when I’m not starting a new project (which often triggers a more intellectual turmoil). I also learned while traveling last year that I’m not good at writing while experiencing lots of new things (like when I quit my job and travel for five months). I seem to be able to either experience or write/process, but not both.

This brings me to another question: Am I not writing because I’m in the middle of a journey? If so, it’s one that I am unaware of (or was, until I started writing this post in my head).

After being on a very literal journey for months last year, it took a while for me to recognize the subtler journey I’ve been on this year. I started to see it when I made myself write down all the Things I’ve Done This Year:

1. Attended a 3-day silent meditation retreat
2. Helped start and facilitate a group of women creatives
3. Hosted an experimental collaboration event while visiting NYC
4. Broke up with my boyfriend
5. Moved out of our apartment
6. Lived out of a storage unit for five months
7. Moved into a new apartment
8. Built a wood canoe with my dad
9. Made a multimedia video of building a wood canoe
10. Live-blogged LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph
11. Spoke at Flash Forward Festival
12. Spoke at PartnerCon
13. Started a newsletter
14. Worked with 10+ new clients
15. Taught a class on social media for small business
16. Was a bridesmaid in two weddings
17. Taught cooking classes for my friends
18. Took a workshop on radio interviewing and became friends with The Kitchen Sisters
19. Did a video interview for the Musea Blog
20. Did a video interview for Heather Morton’s speaking tour
21. Was a remote guest speaker for John Kaplan’s social responsibility in journalism class
22. Modeled for a figure drawing class
23. Went to Mexico
24. Joined a Women’s Sacred Dance Circle
25. Went deer hunting with my dad
26. Got a tattoo

When I got to the end of this list, I thought: How could I have thought I wasn’t on a journey (or, equally silly and also something I imagined: that I hadn’t accomplished very much)? Sometimes I just have to write it down before I can see it.

Now that I’m finally settled in a new apartment, with all my things around me and an awesome roommate and a big kitchen for me to cook in, I’m feeling the calm space I need to write again. Possibly even the centeredness I need to commit to writing every day, whether I feel like it or not.

Whether or not writing functions for you as it does for me — to help clarify and process — I recommend taking some time before the end of this year to make a list of all the things you’ve done. Things you don’t do every year, things you did for the first time, things you’re proud of, things that left a mark. On January 1 our eyes will all shift forward, so now’s the time to look backwards, which is often the only way to really know where you are right now.

Virginia Woolf is a badass

I just finished finally reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. It is, simply put, the best essay I’ve ever read. Not that I previously thought Virginia was a slouch, and I’m having trouble verbalizing exactly what was so magnificent about it, but I just can’t stop saying “wow.”

Her writing is beautiful in it’s clarity (of thought and word); A Room of One’s Own, her 1929 magnum opus on the struggles of women  writers, despite being dense in subject, is gripping and readable like a great mystery novel. And it’s SO timeless, even as it is also obviously dated.

I’ve included a few of my favorite quotations below. The final one, in particular, I hope admonishes women, looking back 100 years on the suffrage movement rather than 10, to accept no excuses for not making your mark on the world.

“Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

“And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life. But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally this is so. Yet it is the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are ‘important’; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes ‘trivial.’ And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. … One has only to skim those old forgotten novels [of the early 19th century] and listen to the tone of voice in which they are written to divine that the writer was meeting criticism; she was saying this by way of aggression, or that by way of consiliation. She was admitting the she was ‘only a woman,’ or protesting that she was ‘as good as a man.’ She met that criticism as her temperament dictated, with docility and diffidence, or with anger and emphasis. It does not matter which it was; she was thinking of something other than the thing itself. Down comes her book upon our heads. There was a flaw in the centre of it. And I thought of all the women’s novels that lie scattered, like small pock-marked apples in an orchard, about the second-hand book shops of London. It was the flaw in the center that had rotted them. She had altered her values in deference to the opinion of others.”

“The very first sentence that I would write here, I said, crossing over to the writing-table and taking up the page headed Women and Fiction, is that it is fatal for any one who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for  woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilised. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place int he mind between the woman and the man before the act of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.”

“When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves.”

“How can I further encourage you to go about the business of life? Young women, I would say, and please attend, for the peroration is beginning, you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays of Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilisation. What is your excuse? It is all very well for you to say, pointing to the streets and squares and forests of the globe swarming with black and white an coffee-coloured inhabitants, all busily engaged in traffic and enterprise and love-making, we have had other work on our hands. Without our doing, those seas would be unsailed and those fertile lands a desert. We have borne and bred and washed and taught, perhaps to the age of six or seven years, the one thousand six hundred and twenty-three million human beings who are, according to statistics, at present in existence, and that, allowing some had help, takes time.

“There is truth in what you say — I will not deny it. But at the same time may I remind you that there have been at least two colleges for women in existence in England since the year 1866; that after the year 1880 a married woman was allowed by law to possess her own property; and that in 1919 — which is a whole nine years ago — she was given a vote? May I also remind you that the most of the professions have been open to you for close on ten years now? When you reflect upon these immense privileges and the length of time during which they have been enjoyed, and the fact that there must be at this moment some two thousand women capable of earning over five hundred a year in one way or another, you will agree that the excuse of lack of opportunity, training, encouragement, leisure and money no longer holds good.

Stephen Mayes – Liveblog from Flash Forward


Stephen Mayes, Managing Director of VII Photo and one of my favorite photo thinkers, is presenting a lecture titled, “Restructuring the Photographic Process,” during the Flash Forward Festival today, June 3, at noon EST.

If you’d like to see what he has to say but can’t join us in Boston, please check in here, where I’ll liveblog his talk and any subsequent discussion.


I’m bad at doing things I’m not already good at

Ok, so that title is a bit of a Catch 22, but I bet you all know what I mean. Every year past childhood it becomes more difficult to get out of our comfort zone and try something new. At least I hope I’m not the only one who feels that way…

For me, my discomfort with trying new things goes way back. I didn’t learn to swim or ride a bike until I was in middle school in part because I was scared of doing things wrong. I refused to keep going to soccer in elementary school and I quit high school track right before our first meet because I was scared of performing badly.

As part of my work this year to honor my inner child, I’m trying to do more things I’m bad at (or at least don’t excel at). More specifically, I’m trying to get over my fear of doing something wrong or badly. I’m trying to let myself do things because I enjoy them, because they help me express myself, because they are a challenge and we learn more from our mistakes than from anything. That means not doing things with the end goal of creating something “good” that other people approve of.

Of course this quickly comes to bear on my photography. I’m constantly around photographers (some of my favorite people in the world) and inevitably they ask if I shoot, if I’m a photographer too. For years I’ve been saying, “I take photographs, but I’m not a photographer.”

I know that sounds like a dodge. In fact, I got called out for it on Facebook last week by a couple good friends, which precipitated this post.

What I meant was: I have so much respect for photographers and know so many of them who are putting everything they have into making images that have a real impact on people. I make photos every once in a while — in my mind those are two vastly different things. And especially in this marketplace, the last thing photographers need is one more dilettante cutting into their pie.

Having gotten that off my chest, I also admit that I’m scared. As I’ve said before, thinking of myself as a creative, let alone an “artist,” has always been daunting. I’m only starting to get comfortable with the idea as it applies to my writing, something I’ve always been good at, always loved, and have had years of education and experience in.

But photography? Photography is none of those things for me. I took a couple classes in high school and a photojournalism class in college that impacted me deeply, but mostly because it made me realize how insanely hard it is to get something honest out of someone when you’re holding a big black box in front of your face. Add to that the fact that I’m lucky enough to call many of the most talented photographers I know friends, and the idea of admitting that I want to be a better photographer is downright terrifying.

Most new photographers think what they’re doing is pretty good, even if they know it’s not “great.” And honestly, that’s how it should be when you’re just starting out. But I KNOW I’m not that good. And I’m not fishing for compliments here, seriously.

I’ve spent years looking at images, pulling them apart, explaining their pros and cons. I capture a few nice elements sometimes, but by and large my stuff is mediocre. And that’s ok. I’m just starting. Even great photographers say they’re lucky to make one good photo a day. But god, it’s just so hard for me to share things publicly that are mediocre.

So why am I putting myself through this? Part of it is in the name of making myself vulnerable during this sabbatical I’m taking. Part of it is that I really do like taking pictures, especially when I’m traveling and want to share what I’m seeing. Part of it is the allure of getting better at something. Part of it is the simple thrill of being able to point to something and say, “See, I made that!”

But here’s the real reason I keep working at this photography thing — it helps me understand all my friends who are photographers so much better. While working at American Photo Magazine and the RESOLVE Blog, I must have interviewed hundreds of photographers. My questions were usually about creativity and family and funding, but rarely about technique or the art itself. I felt I couldn’t relate on that plane, so I didn’t try.

Now I have so many questions. I understand in such a tangible way what it means to get access, to approach someone for a portrait, to capture a true moment. I struggle to move past making photos that are simply pretty, or well composed, or explanatory. I’m trying to kill my inner overthinker and learn to make images that are reactions, that capture an honest emotion. It’s so much harder than I ever imagined.

But in the difficulty, I find a whole new world to ask my many photographer friends for help with. And, the thing that really compelled me to write this post: Peter convinced me that I might be able to help in return.

He says this “virgin” time, when you are just learning to see, finding your vision, facing your fears, is something that many artists wish they could revisit. Since I’m coming at photography from a greater base of knowledge and understanding than most new photographers, maybe I’ll be able to lend some insights into this process.

Failing all of that, taking my photography seriously and sharing it publicly will inevitably allow me to understand and relate more to the photographers I know. By the end of this sabbatical, I hope to have figured out my next career move, which most likely will involve helping photographers in some way. I know now that I can never do that fully until I have tried to make art with a camera.

All images © Miki Johnson. Taken in Istanbul and Berlin, June 2010, with a Contax 2T.

I need your help. Yes you. Seriously.

See? This is a photo I took almost A MONTH AGO in Death Valley and have been meaning to put up as part of a series of photos I've made -- and still haven't.

Some of you have probably noticed that my blog has gone a little quiet lately. I could blame it on being busy: I spent the last few weeks putting my life in storage, leaving my first and only San Francisco apartment, hanging in Seattle for a week with 13 of my best friends from college, and then flying home to Ohio to pick up a car and start my life on the road. But that’s kind of a cop out.

It’s a cop out because the whole point of this traveling thing was to help me see a bunch of people and get inspired and figure out what makes me really happy and write about it all. But here’s the thing I’ve realized over the last few weeks: Having no home and no routine actually makes it damn hard to do something like writing that requires concerted creative effort. Well, shit.

Then, lying in bed this morning I remembered a little epiphany about this blog that I had months ago when I was just laying it out in my head. This doesn’t have to be one of those blogs where I have all the answers. In fact, it can’t be. I’m not an expert here. I’ve never done this before. But hopefully through my experience people can learn a little about their own.

But if I don’t have the answers, where does the insight come from? (OK, so hopefully I have a few insights of my own, but you know what I mean.) Yep. From you.

I’ve seen the stats on this blog, it’s not like there’s a million people out there 😉 This is mostly friends, family, colleagues, people I’ve met in my travels, and a few awesome people who apparently pay attention to what I do although I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them yet. But that small group of people (again, this means you) is packed with brilliant, talented, insightful people — many of whom have tons of experience in this whole traveling-while-working-and-being-creative-thing.

So here’s my central dilemma. If you have any advice PLEASE LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS. (And then you’ll be helping other people, too, not just me 🙂

I’m a fairly adept traveler, but this is the longest I’ve ever done it, and it takes up most of my energy just to find where I’m going, get settled, figure out what I should be doing, contact people, find an outlet for my charger, find food that doesn’t put me in a coma, figure out a new shower, find a towel…you get the idea.

After all that, there’s not a ton of energy left for writing. I’m actually a pretty slow writer (great trait for a blogger to have, I know), plus I have this new deal with myself that I’ll only write things that I feel like I simply HAVE to write. Things that give me butterflies. Things that keep me awake at night. Sometimes getting to those things actually feels harder when I’m on the move. Like there is so much stimulus coming in that I can’t process it enough to record it.

So, if you have any tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Do I need to force myself to write every day, even if I don’t publish it? Do I need to write shorter things more often? Do I need to just lower my damn expectations? Or should I just expect this will all get easier as I get used to it and try not to stress so much? Help me out. I know you’re out there.

Quit your crappy job already, ok?

Gypsy Rose Lee, another powerful woman with theatrical talents.

This is an email I received yesterday from a very close friend. I was inspired by it and wanted to share it with you for the reasons I express at the bottom of my response to her (below).

What you should know is that this friend is brilliant and one of the hardest workers I know. She majored in theater and history at Northwestern, attended Harvard for law school, and is now working in the DC Public Defenders office, where she has pretty much always dreamed of working. Sadly, like many dreams, it’s not going quite as she planned. I’ve offered her my words of support, but if you have your own, please share them in the comments. I think we all need to encourage each other to make these kinds of life changes 🙂

The Email

Our conversation last night caused me to spend the first hour of my waking life this morning lying around thinking. Which is something I have not done in a long time, really. And I feel that, being in the pensive state you are in, you’ll be thrilled to hear all about my musings.

I am trying to pick a new career, and place to live. I don’t think my career is good for me for several reasons. One is that I have no life and I don’t like getting out of bed in the morning. The other is that it doesn’t help people the way that I had hoped it would. Our criminal justice system is despicable and disgusting and when my clients are like, “How can the system be this way? Isn’t there anything we can do about it? Can’t you tell the judge that it just isn’t fair?” And I’m like, “Well, no, it doesn’t work like that. The Supreme Court already decided that it’s OK, so now, you’re just stuck in it.”

So now I’m looking for two things in a new job. (1) I would like a job that doesn’t make me want to stay in bed in the morning. High bar. (2) I am looking for a job that will actually help people, and make some small difference in one of the many arenas in which the U.S. provides completely different treatment to rich people and poor people, to black people and white people. It’s crazy and totally unacceptable.

I am also, however, exhausted of thinking about this stuff. I could just go live in a nice small town in Colorado not too far from my family and join a small law firm that does land issues and spend the rest of my career being paid more than decently and writing legal memos about whether someone is allowed to use the water from a particular river or not. I could volunteer to tutor kids in my spare time, and buy a house, and have babies, and see my family members, and die happy. And my selfish little self is like, yep, that sounds good to me.

But I’m not going to do that because of my white guilt.

I also have been struggling a lot lately with whether or not pursuing something artistic is selfish. One idea I had is that I could do some kind of non-profit bringing theater and/or dance and/or music to public school kids. Denver is cutting most of their arts programs pretty severely right now.

P__ says that he thinks that is not that useful a contribution to society. I find this very upsetting because I would love to spend six months teaching theater and putting together a cabaret. I love cabaret. I love performing and I love artistic things. I love reading novels, which P__ would probably argue is a huge waste of time. I love the arts, but I can see his point that a lot of artists are just drifting through life trying to “experience” it and make art about it and are not really thinking much about having any effect on others, or indeed, even thinking about whether their career choice SHOULD be one that is helping others in some way.

On the other hand — art can make a social movement happen. Art is where a lot of the good ideas come forward. Art is often political. Hello — all I have to say is “Brecht.” And P__ and I watched this fairly bad movie about the federal art project, which I didn’t even know about, but which was started by FDR during the depression and put all these actors and producers to work making theater (so cool), and apparently they made these really political plays about labor unions that were of course deemed Communist, and then our American government shut it down because we don’t really believe in free speech in this country.

The point is that it was very political. And then I was thinking, right — Hollywood was a huge target of the McCarthy Communism hearings, because artists are liberal, political people. The problem being, of course, that a bunch of liberal people living in huge houses and making movies like Father of the Bride are not exactly doing anything with their liberalism to help society. Steve Martin is no Brecht.

So, artists have huge potential to effect society in positive ways, it seems to me. But do we (or they, I guess I don’t know if I count as one) actually do it?

After all these musings, I had an idea. We know a lot of very artistic people. Fuck, our reunion alone could write a paper, put out a book of short stories or a novel, put on a play, make a movie, make a CD, create a photo exhibition, and probably teach a bunch of kids to do the same. And then we could write reviews about all of it. 🙂

This kind of talent should not go to waste.

I was thinking of some kind of organization or co-op or something for artists who are dedicated to producing art that encourages or effects social change. Maybe not all of their art — everyone likes to do a good show of Gypsy that has nothing to do with social change — but some of their art.

Maybe it starts out as just a group of people with a website who sign on to a pledge — they will do one creative thing a year that they put forward for the purpose of creating social change. And they pledge to assist the other members of the group in doing the same. Maybe some of the members are artists who are just promising that at least one of their works will have that purpose.

And maybe some of them are artistic doctors and lawyers who promise to use whatever lost artistic talents they abandoned for their new career to do something artistic and socially changey each year. For those people it serves the dual purpose of keeping their creative sides alive and doing something useful. Maybe it starts out as just a support system but it becomes a place where people can help each other to find grants and funding, where people collaborate for bigger projects, where we put together a showing or yearly event that actually draws some attention…

Or maybe I’m a crazy person driven by guilt. The collaboration idea was born of my plan (made this morning) to become a teacher and teach a class to urban kids living in poverty about theater that did, or tried to, effect social change. It’s kind of like teaching kids how the topic can be useful. And then letting them put on a play, which is also fun and keeps them off the streets. If only someone would let me do this.

Organizations like this, of course, already exist.

This one seems to be based in New Jersey: http://www.artistscollective4socialchange.org.

This one seems to have no clear mission, like most artistic groups: http://projects.tigweb.org

Apparently there is something called ArtCorps, which looks awesome, but is not what I’m talking about: http://www.volunteerabroad.com/listingsp3.cfm/listing/64538

And that concludes my musings, because I am late to go to a crime scene, go visit a child at the kiddie jail, and go to the jail to see my incarcerated clients. Which is how I spend my Sundays. I would definitely rather be writing a lesson plan or a script for a documentary about the horrible situation in DC public schools. Or, you know, going to brunch.

My Response

First off, let me say that I’m in tears. I’ll also say this happens to me a lot more often now than it used to, but the point remains — this brings tears to my eyes because a) you are doing something so hard that is making you unhappy, b) you have the absolutely best intentions, and c) it seems that you’re really ready to move on to something that both fulfills you creatively and makes the world a little bit better, which is pretty much what I am trying to do right now and what I hope my blog does for people.

Second, I don’t know who this P__ character is, but if I did I would give him a solid piece of my mind. This idea that our society has that artists are somehow selfish, that art doesn’t make any difference, drives me nuts. Anyone who thinks you get into the arts to be famous and make money has obviously never tried to do anything truly creative in their life. It’s incredibly hard and generally pays shit. You’re 100% correct about the incredible, political power that art has had and continues to have in our society and I’m so excited to think that someone as smart and dedicated and talented as you wants to put your efforts into developing that further.

There are a lot of ideas in this email (thank you for sharing, really, I’m honored), and I don’t have time to address them all. But, in a general sense, I think that you finding a way to use your passion for theater to create a career that is sustainable for you and also helps kids in the way you want is totally doable and a noble ambition.

I like the idea of an online support network, etc. but right now I think you should focus on you. BE SELFISH. There is nothing wrong with it. You have to learn to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people. Period.

If I were you, I would pick the place you want to live, find a school or district that is cutting their arts, put together a program, look for some funding, and run the shit out of it yourself. I have seen you create big things out of nothing but your own perseverance and I think this would be no exception.

Then, when it’s a big success and everyone loves you, you can write up some documents about how to do this in other communities with other arts, and export that, probably on the web, and get bigger grants, etc. The details are not important here; I just think you should not try to go too big, too fast — a tendency I think we both share 😉

I love you and totally support all of this. Call me any time if you want to talk more.

P.S. Just something to think about…I would love to publish your email (with a few edits for anonymity sake) and my response on my blog. I’ve talked to several people recently who are making life changes like this and I think it really helps to share them with the community, so other people stuck in jobs that make them not want to get out of bed in the morning have the courage to take the leap and find something else. Feel free to tell me, hell no. Thought I’d put it out there 🙂

Patti Smith is my hero :: Here’s why

Patti Smith + Robert Mapplethorpe 4ever

I just finished reading Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, about her ever-changing, ever-present friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and about supporting each other as they became artists. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with it and I cried through the entire last chapter, describing the end of Robert’s life. My thoughts about it are still tumbling over one another, but I thought I would share some of what made me love it so much. These are quotes from pages I turned the corner down on, almost always because they struck some chord, or simply overcame me with their beauty and insight.

“Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.
It leads to each other. We become ourselves.”

“You could feel a vibration in the air, a sense of hastening. It had started with the moon, inaccessible poem that it was. Now men had walked upon it, rubber treads on a pearl of the gods. Perhaps it was an awareness of time passing, the last summer of the decade. Sometimes I just wanted to raise my hands and stop. But stop what? Maybe just growing up.”

“Remember, we are mortal, but poetry is not.”

“I was in a Beat humor. The Bibles were piled in small stacks. The Holy Barbarians. The Angry Young Men. Rummaging around I found some poems by Ray Bremser. He really got me going. Ray had that human saxophone thing. You could feel his improvisational ease the way language spilled out like linear notes. Inspired, I put on some Coltrane but nothing good happened. I was just jacking off. Truman Capote once accused Kerouac of typing, not writing. But Kerouac infused his being onto rolls of Teletype paper, banging on his machine. Me, I was typing. I leapt up frustrated.”

“We needed time to figure out what all of this meant, how we were going to come to terms and redefine what our love was called. I learned from him that often contradiction is the clearest way to truth.”

“We imagined ourselves as the Sons of Liberty with a mission to preserve, protect and project the revolutionary spirit of rock and roll. We feared that the music which had given us sustenance was in danger of spiritual starvation. We feared it losing its sense of purpose, we feared it falling into fattened hands, we feared it floundering in a mire of spectacle, finance, and vapid technical complexity. We would call forth in our minds the image of Paul Revere, riding through the American night, petitioning the people to wake up, to take up arms. We would take up arms, the arms of our generation, the electric guitar and the microphone.”

“The night, as the saying goes, was a jewel in our crown. We played as one, and the pulse and pitch of the band spiraled around me, I could feel another presence as surely as the rabbit senses the hound. He was there. I suddenly understood the nature of the electric air. Bob Dylan had entered the club. This knowledge had a strange effect on me. Instead of humbled, I felt a power, perhaps his; but I also felt my own worth and the worth of my band. It seemed for me a night of initiation, where I had to become fully myself in the presence of the one I had modeled myself after.”

“The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in his seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.”

Ed Kashi ::on:: reimagining old work


This is a multimedia piece I put together for Ed Kashi’s book, THREE, in which images from his 30 years as a top documentary photographer are combined into triptychs that consciously abandon the idea of context or traditional narrative.

The sound is rough and some of the editing makes me cringe, but this is still one of my favorite pieces, in part because the book is so beautiful and Ed’s words are so eloquent. I especially like it because it reminds us all that no matter how long you’ve been working or how tired you are of looking at your own stuff, YOU CAN ALWAYS FIND A NEW WAY TO SEE.