After my mother’s passing, there was a void with wide expanses of time and nothing to do. I knew I spent a fair amount of time visiting her and managing her affairs, but what I hadn’t taken into account was how much of my head and heart were occupied by her in one way or another — worrying over her, feeling guilty and sometimes resentful, loving and anticipating, preparing to let go.
And if I am honest, caring for my mother was a socially acceptable answer to the question, “What are you doing these days?”
In my mind, there lives a list of shoulds, especially now that she’s gone. I should get a job. I should volunteer. I should exercise more. I should take a class.
I resist the urge to fill the time with distractions. It’s hard.
I wonder if I listen to every voice but my own.
But I am done with busy, and I am reclaiming my happiness with new definitions of success. I am a photographer who takes pleasure in making pictures without worrying about the market or an “audience” most of the time.
But sharing my work is an important part of the creative process. I ask myself why. Do I seek validation for my work? Of course the answer is yes, and this need is deeply intertwined with my upbringing. Can I reassure myself? Is external validation a need or simply a want? I am coming to terms with the fact that there will always be people who do not like my work.
And yet, I still make pictures. This practice does not simply fill the time; it is about trying to see the world and moving through the world with an intention of honest existence. I rejoice in my steady daily practice.
With the sharing of my photographs, there comes conversation and connection and community.
One of my favorite communities, Don’t Take Pictures, presents an online exhibition, Bug Off, on view August 21 — November 19. I’m proud to be a part of the exhibition. I’m sharing the photos I considered for submission. And if you visit the gallery, you’ll see which photograph was accepted.
Spiders in the shed, ants at a picnic, and butterflies in the garden. Love them or hate them, insects are an important part of our world. Using lenses as microscopes, this call presents photographers as entomologists. Whether photographed for study or décor, preserved in amber, captive in a jar, or smashed on the windshield, for this online exhibition, Don’t Take Pictures presents photographs of insects, bugs, and arachnids.
I can’t say enough good things about Don’t Take Pictures and the magazine’s editor, Kat Kiernan. You can read Kat’s thoughts on Living and Sustaining a Creative Life. And you can view her poignant photograph, Hairpins, online or in person at Candela Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.
Congratulations, Kat. I am grateful for the inspiration and education and the art you bring into my life.