What I learned from Vivian Maier
If you aren't familiar with Vivian Maier's photography, then you are really missing out. I learned about her body of work about the same time that everyone else in the world did – when her lifetime's worth of film negatives were discovered during an auction. I won't recount the story of her life, or how her amazing work was hidden away for so many years (you should read about it yourself – it's quite an interesting tale.) What I will share with you, dear reader, is the lesson I learned from her art. Vivian spent years traveling and capturing some to the most striking images I have ever seen. Every time I look at one of her photos, I am mesmerized by her ability to see symmetry, depth, and beauty in every portrait and facade she pointed her camera at. She could empathize on a incredible level, not only capturing a true sense of humanity, but also a sense of history in a single moment. It takes my breath away.
Strangely enough, she never tried to capitalize on her talents. You never saw a Vivian Maier photo in Time Life, or anywhere for the matter. She hid her work away from everyone – family, friends, and close relations. Why! Maybe it was just a different time, and social pressures kept her from pursuing her passion as a carrier, who knows. But it didn't stop her from continuing to take photos, even though no one was praising or paying her for them. This strikes a chord in me. For as long as I can remember, I've been a storyteller, but creating something never was satisfying unless someone could see it. I think this is why I learned how to draw – it was just a faster way of getting people to notice my stories. I couldn't have been a Vivian Maier, making art just for arts sake. I needed the approval of those around me.
I'd like to think that I have grown in the past few years, and developed a deeper sense of who I am and what my work means to me. I can make something just for the sake of creating, but conversely this has led me to discover the true reason for sharing my work. It's not for praise, or approval, or self gratification. Art and stories are meant to inspire others. If it was purely a personal endeavor, then why show it to anyone at all. If someone had not found Vivian's years of incredible work secreted away in some dusty closet, I would never have had the chance to share in its inspiring vision.
In closing, share your art with others so that they may share in the power that inspires you.
Learn more about this amazing artist.
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