photos by Rachel Call
|photo by Rachel Call|
This one time, being today obviously, i spoke at my college's convocation ceremony. I felt pretty cool just being asked to do so, you might not know this, but i like public speaking. Oh and this is my second time walking (i walked in April before I knew they wanted me to speak in August) and I don't actually get my diploma until December, a whole two credits of internship are holding me back...
After two meetings with Paul, two lunch meetings and three regular type with Val, one review from the committee, a handful of revisions, a dress rehearsal, and about twenty hours of my time, here is my five minute speech in its entirety. I had the images appearing on the screen as i talked so this obviously isn't as cool. (If you select one photo it will display all of them in a slideshow way at the bottom of your screen, that way you can see them larger--as you should.)
Fine Arts & Communications Convocation
Brigham Young University
August 10th, 2012
I always knew that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. In the beginning the medium wasn’t important, I bounced between oil paints, crayons, fabric, clay and when my mother would permit, I would commandeer the family camera and take the allotted three photos. Back then, in my eyes, it only took 3 things to mean I was an artist and therefore bound for fame and glory:
2. It had to receive praise from the most prestigious source
3. It had to produce an income.
Being an artist was easy at age 5. I would line the walls of our home with my one-of-a-kind creations and charge my family admission to the “museum.” I even convinced my mom to purchase one of my finer pieces, 'The Girl Turkey Mermaid,' when I threatened to rip it in half if it wasn’t procured. With that purchase I knew I had hit the big time, the most prestigious people in my life, my parents, had not only made my work profitable but had given my work praise. It didn’t occur to me then that almost every kid in the nation had access to a 64 pack of crayons, parents that thought they were the cat’s pajamas, and the complete work of Dr. Seuss to borrow ideas from.
Though it has always been popular for children to gravitate towards the arts because of the creative nature and bold colors, these days it’s become increasingly more popular to use the same motives to claim one’s self as an artist in adulthood. Hipsters are cleaning out thrift stores of antique cameras and every smart phone user can access Instagram, the largest photo sharing social media app in the world. Some of us might have gotten into the arts for these hip reasons or to be an ‘individual’ but, it doesn’t really matter what got us here, just that we found a reason—within each of us—to stick out the long days and sleepless nightsto create, print, and frame our work.
In one of my favorite books about creating art, Art & Fear, the authors, Bayles & Orland explain, “The desire to make art begins early. For some the desire persists, and sooner or later must be addressed. And with good reason: your desire to make art beautiful or meaningful or emotive art-is integral to your sense of who you are. Life and Art, once entwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Stravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting.”
Like me, the desire to create art persisted in my fellow classmates. The following images exemplify how they were able to push through the creative process and find their own voice.
Having a career in photography means that we are competent enough at our medium to create an image for a client as they envisioned it, but being a photographer means that we spend our time—between jobs—working on the images that will sustain us as an artists and humans. One of our professors, Paul Adams, constantly says “if you can imagine yourself doing anything else, get out of photography now and do that thing instead.” He understands that being an artist isn’t a career choice; it’s who we are. There is a quote that we keep hung in the dark room that further illiterates this point “Artist don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.”
But we aren’t artist for them, we are artist for ourselves, because we really don’t have a choice. It is at this point that we begin to fear. We fear that we aren’t talented, that we will run out of creativity, that other people are better, that no one—not even our mom— will love our work, and lastly that we are just students and our life as artists will end with graduation.
But most importantly, I remember that first moment I knew I could not live without creating art.