I have a new pet. I saved it from the Goodwill folks who would have fed it to a 5 year old where surely he would have met his demise. It’s a turtle. It lights up, produces music in sinc with it’s head or paw or shell moving. I named him “Geraldo” after “Geraldo Rivera” the mustached talk show host who got himself into all kinds of dramatic escapades. “Geraldo Rivera” was a drama queen, as much as his macho self could be. Anything for attention. The eye rolling of the 90’s was comical. What’s he going to be upto next?
Well, “Geraldo” my new electronic musical pet turtle robot will be part of my “Embracing Art” series. ( I am a photographer among many, many other talents ; p ) Technology is art, it is really. It’s design, engineering, programing and this one has absolutely no particular purpose (I think I can hook it up as a speaker…maybe).
I have invited Samara (the organizer for the ‘City of 100 Artists Auction‘ and founder of ‘Hands in Motion ‘ ) to meet “Geraldo” my new pet turtle and include him in the “Embracing Art” photo series. It made her laugh when she wanted to cry from frustration in dealing with social media. That’s the spirit! “Geraldo” found his purpose! Yeah “Geraldo”!
Samara has been a great sport, really. She has accepted my ideas and played along when we met at the Sir Winston Churchill Plaza in Edmonton, Alberta last week. I’ve included a photo of Samara explaining her art to “Art” the nickname I gave the sculpture art installation called “Lunch Break” of a blue collar man in coveralls sitting on a bench taking in the scene. As usual, the plaza was crowded (don’t let the photos fool you, no Photoshopping was done to remove people, timing was everything in taking the perfect shot when no one was in the frame.) People would stop and listen to Samara literally explain her painting to “Art”.
People hate having their pictures taken usually, they feel awkward and often have impossible standards to live up to due to media. This series has helped get people out of their comfort zone and forget for a moment that there was someone with a camera close by. Their essence was captured as they were engrossed in the moment.
That is what I want to capture. Make it fun! SEE and BE SEEN with the public artwork and not just walk past it without a thought. FEEL it as it was meant to be felt, whisper your secrets, let it keep you company, dance around it, lean on it for support and comfort. Personalize it instead of objectifying it.
I have been charging for the photo sessions with the intention of only making my photo series free for the homeless and transient whom I want to photograph later this year. I want to make sure I have my ducks in a row when I do. To have the physical help and support as I include water bottles, sandwiches, and anything I can do to compensate THEM for their time and participation. Perhaps even print the photos and give the a copy.
Just like I want to personalize what we normally objectify and see but not really observe, we do this with people as well, especially if they make us uncomfortable. I want to photograph fringe people in the same scenes as everyday folks. Dignity is personal. Shame is personal. Self loathing is personal. Ironically, it doesn’t matter who you talk to, how much money they make, how big their houses are, what car they drive, you will find that some of the negative emotions are felt with these folks as they are with those who have nothing.
As are the good feelings, love, laughter, contemplation, appreciation, etc…
I want them to experience a silly moment in their struggle to understand how to fit in. I find that I have had fabulous conversations with people who have let me into their lives while I photographed them. I hope I have inspired them, brought them fond memories and gave them something to look forward to for years to come.
Use your gifts for good, not evil.
NEXT: Where in the world is “Geraldo”?