Art as the Salvaging of Shadows, Living Our Whole Selves

 

Food for the Dark, Cold Winter Days

I like aspects of the nudist movement because of the reasons you wrote about. I don’t like Puritanical hypocrisy but don’t deny I have my fair share of it. The naked body can be beautiful but probably only if we have a healthy relationship with our own naked bodies! Raised as you were in a predominantly Catholic society, I have the same attitude towards the naked body as the Puritans that settled New England from the time of the Mayflower settlers through the early years of largely English colonial activity. But early on I became sensitized to what I now deem a largely unhealthy tendency in much of world, both East and West, to think of the naked body only as a sexual object.
A photographer (or visual artist, more generally) finds beauty not in his or her subject but through the artist eye. I attribute our conventional ideas of beauty to the media that abound all around us, often so ubiquitous we no longer see them or become aware how they affect our attitudes and ways of seeing and interpreting experience. One of the goals of a photographer is to teach the rest of us to see again, to see beauty where we’ve grown blind to see it. I’m a photographer because I am obsessed with seeing the world without prejudice as beautiful. I don’t always succeed but succeed more than I could ever hope for.
I’ve been doing web workshops with established, gifted photographers this past year and I’ve learned more than just technique from watching them work. I am especially interested in their philosophy, in how they see the world and how they interpret it through the work they produce. As you’ve guessed by now I am flawed philosopher. I like to break down seemingly whole objects or concepts or experience to see what they’re made of. I became aware of this that summer after I left medical school and went back to San Agustín to study literature and philosophy of literature. By then I thought it was too late to change gears. I don’t think I could have made the switch then either. There were too many obstacles. I had to grow a little more emotionally and intellectually to attempt the switch, which I am now doing.
Photographers are constantly pushing the envelope of what is photograph-worthy. If beauty is in the eye of the artist, there are increasingly other reasons for creating pictures. I’ve never been attracted to photo-journalism although many modern photographers have been influenced by photo journalists. While I have mostly done documentary-style videos I want to venture into narrative videos. To do this I have to develop story-telling, an aspect of imagination and creativity. It’s a whole new ball of wax but it’s the challenge that goads me. I want to develop my appreciation of art, grow intuitive and creative qualities, and find and validate the “feminine” side of me. Nowadays, of course, we are blurring the boundaries between the gender stereotypes. A great part of the world is discovering wholeness. I like to think I am part of that movement and abet it by my own small efforts.

 

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