Celebration, ceremony, convergence and community. I am looking to explore these ways in which people come together. The very human search to find happiness, comfort, solidarity, and connections through celebration, faith, convergence in times of unrest, community, and cultural identity. My aim is to capture the events and places that fill each of these wants and needs as well as the human responses to them. A face in the crowd, if you will, and then the crowd itself as a whole unfocused on any individual. I want to explore each of these outlets individually and then bring them together into one body of work as they overlap their intent and representation of what brings us together.
Celebration and happiness, doing things simply for pleasure. Parades, fairs, carnivals, bright lights, music, food, bodies in motion. A chance to step away from day to day life and, for even a short amount of time, focus on something that makes one smile. A celebration of cultural heritage, small town traditions, the free falling sensation of a roller coaster, or simply a larger than life Charlie Brown floating down a NYC street. All this done for groups and crowds of people coming together. Is the adage “happiness is only real when shared” proven true in these moments? You don't see one person enjoying a parade or the sparkle and bang of a fireworks show, there is something in these experiences being shared that one fully realizes the joy they feel, a collective sense of happiness.
Ceremony, to me, seems to speak to comfort. I feel as though the idea of ceremony can provide both celebration, redemption, and a sense of connectedness that comes within shared beliefs. Whether in a ceremonial circle, a pilgrimage, or a congregation within four walls, there seems to be a need to believe in something other than yourself and a want to believe that something has control over the uncontrollable and answers questions to the unknowable. I am most interested in the various ceremonies used to celebrate faith, convey and prove belief, and provide a sense of comfort in the repetitive nature of these ceremonies and traditions.
Convergence in solidarity. I have been attending a multitude of rallies, protests, and marches in NYC, watching people come together through the streets, converging in solidarity. The need to express overwhelming emotion is palpable in the air and visible in the faces. Anger, fear, frustration, and passion erupt in the form of collective chants, tears, quiet solidarity, and visual messages and imagery. Within this wave of emotions there seems to be comfort in knowing that individuals can become one collective mass, and in doing so they can ignite change and be a force for the cause at hand. As it has been through many generations, this is a much needed outlet in these times and brings people together in one of the most inspiring ways.
Community for connectivity. Maybe the most physically permanent of these human connectors and one of the most constant for me to encounter. Living in NYC and constantly moving around the city in search of visual inspiration and exploration. As an example, Chinatown is a passion of mine and I spend hours wandering around these neighborhoods in both Manhattan and Queens. I am drawn to the insulated feeling of these neighborhoods. While they are still in a city setting, you can see the community within moving through the crowds, visibly connected through their traditions and celebrations, faith, food, ethnicity, and family. Multigenerational ties that bind these communities together and keep them thriving and connected.
I find that the most comfortable place for me to exist is behind the camera. I feel very unconnected to the world most of the time. I am physically present but always seem just outside of what is happening, an autonomous spectator. This constant feeling is what fuels my need to understand and experience what drives people to connect. I see in the world the need for it, the ways people try to achieve it, and on many levels enjoy it, but fail to truly grasp it for myself. I am just beginning this exploration, and as I flesh out my body of work, the ideas I am attempting to put into words here will be a visually cohesive body of work. I see this as a long term, large scale, project.
I shoot 35mm film. I plan to travel immersing myself into places and events that speak to my visual narrative of human connectivity. My focus right now is within the Unites States, a county fair in Texas, the pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, Day of the Dead celebrations in Los Angeles, Thunderbird Pow Wow in NYC, as just a few examples.