I mean as a young artist. At that moment, I felt like my poems were magic building blocks. Like when you’re five years old, and you can build a legitimate fort, or castle (or secret, invisible, sisterless viewing room) out of anything. When I rounded the corner into young-adulthood, I’d been writing for about nine years. My poems could build anything if I loved them enough.
I’ve been making images seriously for two and a half years. These numbers aren’t analogous.
You don’t learn the same way at different times in your life. My brain may be less elastic now, but I draw on decades of art- and life-experience. We’re fond of talking about life and art imitating each other, but we don’t talk much about life and art teaching each other how to survive.
I could not have accepted my shortcomings then as I can now. So with all my art and life experience, I’m learning photography faster than I did poetry. I’m not distracted with acne, or bone-crushing social irrelevance, or the low-hum realization that I’m inching toward making all of this work on my own. Sure, I’ve got bills and adult stresses, but I’ve got all my adult faculties to deal with them. And I’ve got the lessons of the last 20+ years.
Right now, my photographs feel like they can build anything—as long as it’s in my heart. Right now, the thing that’s most in my heart… well, you could call it “intimate architecture.” The world is on fire, and I want to make pictures of shapes. Shapes calm me down. Shapes sort order from fire.
That process—the unrepeatable way the heart decides the art you’ll make—I call it evolution bleed. No sooner do I crack the first lock of storytelling than I feel the tug somewhere else. Patterns now. Okay, patterns. I get it; visual storytelling doesn’t always involve people, or even narrative. Sometimes blue is the story. Sometimes line. Sometimes pattern.
But I feel like I’m already on the other side of this obsession. A few months, and on to the next. Just like a teenager.
It’s strange falling in love again, so hard, so fast, and then poof, but it’s familiar. I’m sure what follows intimate architecture will be very different. I’m sure intimate architecture will inform it, and probably in imperceptible ways. I may be growing at an alarming rate—teenager and adult in a dance of instinct and familiarity—but I can’t grow any faster.
To paraphrase Jung, I can only learn who I am by watching what I do.