If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is experiencing a moment worth? I can capture beauty on camera and cause one to marvel at the shapes, the colors, the details, but I cannot fully express an experience in a single image. There are simply some things that one must take in for themselves.
On an early fall day as I sought a photo of a flower, I fully paused. The breeze was whispering in my ears as the butterflies flitted about, moving too quickly for me to photograph, so I simply stopped and enjoyed them. Tall grass tickled my arms as startled doves flew off of their perch on the tall pine tree beside me. The cicadas were singing their song as I watched a leaf slowly float to the ground. Remnants of morning dew caught the light as did the green needles of the long leaf pines. Yellow, purple and white wildflowers surrounded me as a hawk circled above my head. As the sun warmed my back it revealed an intricate web with a spider resting at its center. Blades of grass popped back up as my boot lifted, and periodically I heard things buzz past my ears.
What do you see, feel and notice when you fully pause? Imagine these photos in full focus. Just as I can tell my child what I have learned and try to help them, it is their own experiences that serve as a far greater teacher. Today, choose to stand still. Take in the moment.
Lifelong learning is something in which I am a firm believer, and to those institutions that invite us to do so, I give my thanks. The Morris Museum is such a place and amongst its treasures in the Center for the Study of Southern Art are important records on Dale Kennington, my favorite Alabama artist ever. It is my honor to be joining them this Friday to speak for their Art at Lunch event while finally having a chance to see the exhibit of my “Flowers for Mom” that will be showing through November 18th. This week, my flowers will be joined by a competitive flower show featuring floral interpretations of art in the collection of the Morris Museum of Art. This Southern Sojourn show is being presented by the Sand Hills Garden Club, a member of the Garden Club of America. If you are within reach of Augusta, Georgia take a moment to breathe in the art and nature being featured. If you simply cannot get there, let me know how my flowers and I can make a stop in your area on this Camera Journey. Thanks for being along for the adventures!
We cannot choose what happens to us, but we CAN choose how to respond. Like many people, Alzheimer’s happened to our family. I chose to respond by photographing a flower a day. Maria Shriver chose to found the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, so she found this week to be a good one to shine a spotlight on my “Flowers for Mom” project by honoring me as her Architect of Change as seen here. Her belief is that we all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives and our own communities. Needless to say, I am deeply grateful for this gift and appreciate knowing that the way I have chosen to respond to Alzheimer’s is in some small way moving humanity forward.
Just as beauty abounds in the flowers I find daily, people imagining what CAN be are also all around us if we simply pause to notice. Sara Beck, is one such individual. Twenty three years ago she gave me the gift of being the godmother for her daughter. Marsa is a neurodiverse girl who learns differently, walks with difficulty, has had more surgeries than I can count on two hands, and brings great joy to those around her. Rather than focus on the road blocks facing adults with differences, Sara has become an advocate for Marsa and others in our community by providing her volunteer leadership to Triumph Services, a new organization in Alabama that provides a holistic approach to support that includes developing independent living skills, training for employment, and working on community integration in addition to providing counseling. Triumph is life changing not only for Marsa, but also for families, employers and other area citizens as evidenced in this video.
While we would prefer that Hurricane Florence remained at sea, the Eastern United States has been hard hit by her winds and water. We are now witnessing American heroes who are responding and engaging in what they CAN do to assist with the resulting devastation. There is so much more that will need to be done, and undoubtedly there are other caring, conscious, connected, and compassionate people who will rise to the challenge.
It’s your turn to think of what you CAN do. Be an Architect of Change! Make a Difference and Move Humanity Forward.
Thank you to all who came to the “Celebrating Nature through Art” show to support the Black Warrior Riverkeeper at the beautiful Harrison Galleries in Tuscaloosa. For more of the story, check out this nice article in Alabama Living about “The Healing Power of Nature.”
Endeavor to thoughtfully care for another living being. By so doing, you will be led to earnestly consider issues facing the world around you.
The Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit clean water advocacy organization, protects the waterway bearing its name. They know that what is happening in the entire watershed area of the river affects the quality of the water, the flow of the waterway, the plant life, the animals, and ultimately the people who enjoy the river for recreation and depend on it for drinking water. I am delighted to be joining hands with this great organization when I have a solo show at the Harrison Galleries in Tuscaloosa, Alabama featuring nature photography from both my pine and flower series. On Friday September 14th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. will be a free event called “Celebrating Nature through Art.” Join us for the reception with live music and a brief presentation by yours truly and Charles Scribner, the executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper. You can also catch the show during the fun of First Friday in downtown Tuscaloosa on the 7th from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and during regular gallery hours through September 21st.
As school gets started, I am thankful for the teachers who thoughtfully foster students in classrooms. When we care for children, we understand how critical a quality education is, and also recognize that we never stop learning. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is aware of that fact and has great educational programming for leaners of all ages. I will be joining the talented pen and ink artist, Melissa Tubbs, on Thursday August 30th as a part of the Build Your Brand partnership with the Montgomery Art Guild. We will be talking about building digital and real world community. Join us, or take time to explore something you want to learn more about.
Those who thoughtfully care for my mother and others who are cognitively impaired understand how important it is to have access to good healthcare, socialization, exercise, and music. Isn’t it incredible how looking after another living being leads us to see beyond ourselves and acknowledge issues in the world needing our attention? What or whom do you foster that increases your awareness of issues affecting our common good? As we each do our small part, we are all shaping a better world. Thank you for caring.
A pedestrian on 57th Street sees a musician getting out of a cab and asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Without pause, the artist replies wearily, “Practice, practice, practice.” How true that old joke is, and how thankful I am for the hours practiced by incredible musicians I have enjoyed seeing perform in that hallowed hall like those in So Percussion and the JACK Quartet. Just as musicians can repeatedly approach the same piece of music and play it differently, I can repeatedly approach the same kind of flower and photograph it differently. With two full years of “Flowers for Mom” and over 730 daily flower photos, stay tuned to see into which halls all of that practice will take me!
This summer has been a musical one for me as I have witnessed some incredible concerts including several by the Silkroad Ensemble. The power of the arts is undeniable, and anyone who chooses to develop skills in an arts discipline is making their own life richer as well as those of the people who experience their art. When in the audience of a Silkroad performance, one can witness brilliant musicians playing an assortment of instruments from around the world. While the performers come from distinct cultures with extremely different musical training, they share a common goal of listening to and learning from each other to make wonderful music.
It may not be a realistic expectation for you to put in major hours on a daily basis to practice an art form, yet you can find a way to include being creative in your life. I believe activities like baking a cake, arranging flowers, and building a tree house count as practice time because you are being innovative and making something that has never before existed as you can compose it. In addition, when you do these things with your own hands, you better understand and appreciate others who also bake cakes, arrange flowers, and build tree houses in their individual way.
As said by the American artist, Robert Rauschenberg, “I feel strong in my beliefs that a one-to-one contact through art contains potent peaceful powers and is the most non-elitist way to share exotic and common information, seducing us into creative mutual understandings for the benefit of all.” Find a way to get your creative juices flowing. Revel in the time spent doing so, and applaud others who choose their own way to create and innovate.
Now over 4,000 people are following my Camera Journey on Instagram! For a daily flower and cause to pause, follow me there.
In Miss Rumphius, the classic picture book by Barbara Cooney, the main character was inspired as a young girl to explore the world and to find her unique way to leave the world a better place. Explore she did, before landing in her home by the sea where she became known as the Lupine Lady. The legacy of the real Miss Rumphius can be seen in the countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine. What a way to make the world more beautiful!
Because of many individuals like Miss Rumphius, Chautauqua Institution, in western New York, is filled with gorgeous blooms that are a treat to thousands of summer visitors. The “Flowers for Mom” series was born in this place that sparks creativity in me and so many others.
The Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club provides amazing programs to foster the beautification of the Chautauqua grounds in addition to teaching summer visitors about gardening, pollinators, bats, birds and more. I give them my deepest thanks for encouraging the hands of the many gardeners who nurture the flowers that inspired me. In this place where it all began, on July 16th at 12:15 p.m. in Smith Wilkes Hall, I will be speaking for the Monarch Moments and More series. If you are amongst those reveling in the many offerings of Chautauqua on the 16th, I hope you will join me as I talk about “Flowers for Mom.” On August 2nd, I intend to return to the very same Chautauqua roadside spot to begin Volume III of my daily photographic journey with a shot of Queen Anne’s lace.
If you are one who nurtures gardens, I give you my thanks. If you are one who enjoys the flowers, make sure and thank the gardeners! Here’s to each of our unique abilities to make the world a better place. Now go about seeking beauty today. It abounds.
If you are curious, check out my redesigned website. Let me know what you think. Share photos of flowers you discover in the Flowers for Mom Facebook Group and join the discussion with others around the globe. Thanks for joining the Camera Journey!