Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Dig

little men. 8 x 10. silver gelatin print.
My homegirl Anita recently inspired me to dig into the archives. This is the first photo I ever printed. It was taken outside an army surplus store in New York City, October 2001, shortly after 9-11.

Walking around New York was very surreal at that time. People were going about the city, trying to return to “business as usual”, but it was clear that everyone was still in a state of shock. While walking down Broadway, I passed these two little boys decked out in army fatigues. They were quite the spectacle. Passersby, with a new found fervor for patriotism, cheered and applauded. “They’re ready to go to Afghanistan!” someone exclaimed.

With my dad’s old Nikkormat, no photography experience, and nothing but instinct to guide me, I approached the boys. With my lens at very close range, their eyes pierced right through me. In that instance, they weren’t boys; they were little men. And they were serious. Like trained soldiers, they saluted. Unfortunately, knowing nothing about exposure, the salute shot was totally blown out and almost unprintable. But I will never forget that pivotal moment when I had, for the first time, felt my place in the universe.

For new mothers, who are searching for their lost creativity, it is important to dig through the archives. In her recent dig, Anita said, “I found myself in that old box and remembered that I was a woman before I was a mother.” When you decide to go on your dig remember: the point shouldn’t be to get back to where you were. That is impossible. The woman you were has grown into the mother you are. Looking back to the archives should be a tool for moving forward, taking the reins, and leading yourself to a life that will sustain art.