Resurfacing

A couple of recent comments–one by the inimitable Joe Lambert to my husband about missing “bg’s blogging days” and the other made both by @jonmott and @tuchodi on Twitter about whether a show I’ve landed some photos in could be viewed online–combined with a sense of missing something in my writing and connected life, have sent me back here. I haven’t stayed away all these months due to boredom or new avenues of reflection, but because I’ve really been at a loss as to how to write about my new work.

without peer

My storytelling work in small rural towns feels like such a gift to me, a chance to help communities recognize one another and their future in their stories. It’s really something to be in the presence of their story sharing. The participants in these towns are taking some real risks in putting themselves out there, giving of their own story, extending a hand, engaging in the storytelling work. Every time I see it, I am blown away by the power of story to build bridges within even a deeply divided town by identifying common ground but also by sharing a bit of the self, one’s own story, townsperson to townsperson. Life slows down for a moment; people look at one another and are no longer strangers–they live Bahktin’s words:  “Truth is not born nor is it to be found inside the head of an individual person, it is born between people collectively searching for truth, in the process of their dialogic interaction” (Bakhtin, 1984, p.110 as quoted here).  But precisely because of that, I don’t yet feel as though I can narrate or reflect upon much about the particulars in such a public space as this–some of these communities are not really into the Web due to a lack of broadband access and practice, mostly, and I would never wish to jeopardize the new relationships and the efforts being made.  It isn’t necessarily my story to tell.  Not yet.  And so I stay a bit quiet over here.

tracking time

But I can share my own personal creative work, my photography and fiction, something I’ve mostly done over on bgexperiments and Flickr.  I’ve been sharing lots and lots of photos this past year, thanks to the 365 group.  Today on Twitter I shared my news that three of my photos were selected to be part of a juried show, opening this evening.  I feel shy about this news (almost didn’t tell anyone here) because thinking of myself as a visual artist is new.  I’ve never seen my photos hung in a gallery, or had people look at them in that kind of formal space, or indeed had them juried, or had people consider buying them.  But hearing back from my Twitter network soothed my jumpy nerves.

My friend Barbara Sawhill tweeted that she sensed a bit of the imposter syndrome stirring.  I think she’s right.  Online, I choose to share my photos on my sites–it’s not as though I’m putting them into an exhibition.   There’s something quite different about this sort of formal publication of my work–I feel exposed, uncertain (I see all the mistakes in the photos)…and yes, well, shy in a way I never do in my Flickr 365group.  I see my work online as in process, evolving, part of a conversation.  If I write something half-baked on my blog or Twitter, or in a comment to someone else’s post, well, the next day I try to think and write better.  It’s all about the communication, the co-creating of  the learning conversation. It’s about stretching, playing, exploring, failing.  When you print a photograph, mat and frame it, then put it on a wall with a price tag, well, then it becomes an object, a thing, and DONE.  Gulp.

mystery framed

But I’m getting over myself.  I’m beginning to put my photos out there the way I do with my writing because I know I will become a better photographer from doing so.  And I like the idea of someone perhaps being moved enough by one of my photos enough to put it on their wall, to live with it.

Now the question is,  will I actually dress up and go to the opening this evening?  Face the public?

(The images I have woven through this post are the photos selected for the show, “Evolving Patterns: In Honor of Darwin’s 200th Birthday.”)

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5 Responses

  1. I feel left out; I *always* bug you to bgblog more.

    I see no reason why not to, the world is full of stuff to observe, question, photograph, ridicule, laugh at, that even if your work is not bloggable, it leaves only… an infinite amount of other targets.

    You know this in jest (I hope); every nugget you publish is savored here.

  2. Of course, you’re right–the playfulness part– I’m learning that messing around on my blog is okay, too. Cogdog is certainly an inspiration in that regard. But listen to you? Heavens–if I did that I might actually get some interesting work done, run a half-marathon, stretch my cooking repertoire, take great pictures, travel around the world, laugh, laugh at myself, laugh at the world, be everywhere all at once, inspire half the online world, and know how to unplug. 😉

  3. I’m really glad to see you back on my google reader list. I love reading your blog and I just viewed your flickr site for the first time! Your photography is amazing! I will enjoy revisiting it often.

  4. Thanks, Nilah. It feels good to be back here; much as I love Flickr and Twitter, there’s no place like blog-home!

  5. Just happened to check back on your long quiet blogsite. on this quiet post-thanksgiving evening. avoiding the work in the third floor studio. also a text from alex about being stranded on Corn Island in Nicaragua and not being able to email/skype or reach him. so my mind went to you.
    so interesting, your reluctance in the visual photo world mirrors my reluctance in the printed word world. ( except that your photos are wonderful and amazing and my writings are still in the practices state and may always live there- a little monkey mind for all of us)
    love to all up north.

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