I recently came across this blog whose author writes 500 words a day about whatever they want. Literally. It struck me because here I was, debating day in day out a the theme for my blog and at the same time finding a themed blog too limiting for my taste. I had deliberated to the point where I stopped blogging altogether, thinking this or that does not go with the idea of my blog. The truth is, I am a lover of many things — my interests and occupations span a wide spectrum and I believe, we are multi-faceted beings contrary to what increasingly managerialized systems would have us believe. With this post I am taking a step out of my comfort zone — the zone where my privacy conscious self keeps me from sharing my thought experiments and real life experiences publicly. I am embracing the freedom to meander and explore. This buzzeecha is starting to look like one of those abandoned playgrounds where one only seems to find comfort when one’s sulking so I must do something to change that. Thank’s to Abagond who has given me the motivation to do that.
Lately I’ve been delving into photography again but with an interest that goes beyond technique. I had made a vow earlier this year to pay more attention to the race and gender of artists I choose to follow and to actively seek out work produced by people of color and minority groups as opposed to going after established voices who are usually male and white. Apart from following contemporary photographers, Gordon Parks is one of the photographers I am currently studying. What drew me to Park’s work was this photograph that I first saw on Abagond’s blog:
The picture made me wonder how I would feel if I were the black lady waiting with her daughter. Ignoring the reality of a cruel system she has to deal with everyday. They are dressed for something special but the look on the mother’s face is of slight concern while the daughter is merely observing the same thing with bored nonchalance. What is the mother taking out of her purse? They could be waiting to meet someone or waiting for a taxi to drive them home. The red neon sign above their head matches the red dress of the white lady off in the distance. Coincidence or deliberate composition? Perhaps in their personal lives the two women had more in common with each other than one could think was possible at the time? I wonder if they could have been friends… perhaps the lady in red would have gently fixed the bra strap falling on her friend’s arm interfering with her otherwise perfect elegance.
The fact that Parks was the first African-American photographer hired by Life magazine further piqued my interest and I am going through his life story and archives. He went from being a brothel pianist, a busboy, a conservation Corps worker, a semi-professional sports player to a porter before becoming a photographer. Even after gaining recognition as an exceptional photographer he expanded his work to include writing, composing, painting and directing films. I am discovering much more about life and art in America through his work. More importantly, I am taking solace in the fact that he took up photography only at the age of twenty five and his varied experiences only made his art richer.