On Spirituality/ Photography is My Voice
I’m an artist because I have something to say. My most recent work of art is easily the most vulnerable art I’ve ever made and it has never felt more uncomfortable to NOT share it because of how convinced I am that people need to hear it and talk about it.
At the same time, after writing and rewriting this essay so many times over, I’ve decided it’s best to let the art do most of the talking. (There is a brief description of it below.) I guess that’s why I do what I do.
Here’s what I have to say:
It’s ok to doubt and question religious beliefs. It’s ok to believe differently than people around you. Contrary to popular opinion, I’ll even say it’s ok to believe in parts of a religion and not believe in other parts. (If you disagree, trust me when I say that I understand why you disagree. But also know that I’m sincerely happy and comfortable to buy you lunch and talk to you about why the above is true: firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s ok to leave a religion you don’t believe in. It’s ok to join a religion you do believe in. It’s not ok to believe other people are less than you because their relationship with God or belief in God is different than yours, or because their belief changes. Spirituality is extremely personal, including for people within the same religious or non-religious groups.
And here’s my advice:
To those who are figuring out what to believe, or what not to believe, learn to enjoy the maze while others walk past it without seeing what’s inside. It’s hard, and learning to appreciate it may take a long time. But you’ll walk past beautiful paintings that lead you to dead ends, only to realize how nice it was to turn around and walk past them one last time. You’ll see footprints leading to an opening where only half of them continue out of the maze–some of which even come back inside–and the rest lead to other openings. You’ll find a tower that gives you a view of the whole, showing you places you want to visit just because you can, showing you that some people ended up in there willingly, others unwillingly, and some even obliviously. You’ll walk out of the maze when the time is right, only to decide you want to walk back in and see what you missed. You’ll come across people who don’t want to be there. When they run from you, you’ll understand why. When they put on a face, you’ll understand why. When they collapse in despair, you’ll fall down with them, studying the maze of stars in the night sky and saying together, “What a beautiful view.”
To those concerned about watching someone you love walking a different path, I ask you to please take a step away from your window and out your front door. Ask if you can take a walk with them on their path, and you just might realize how small your cozy house is.
This is my artwork:
My artwork is titled “Today I Killed Your Disney Prince.” The description I placed with it is this: “I know what it's like to experience a crisis of faith. I know what it's like to reveal it to someone you love. I know what it's like to have them look at you as if you just died.”
You can see the physical print of this image at the Springville Museum of Art through January 16, 2019. For hours and exhibits, visit their website at www.smofa.org