a picture or a thousand words

I am branching into more active promotion today in anticipation of an exciting event next week. A little while ago I participated in a photo call for the photographer Leslie Lyons who was working on a show called Talking Back. You were to come to her loft space wearing a t-shirt with a message that resonated with you personally. The shoot was a blast and I am truly in awe of her passion and talent. Leslie then went on to shoot in various cities around the country, working up to both an upcoming book and a gallery presentation at the Art Directors Club from October 5-9. She emailed me back in June and, amazingly enough, I was chosen as one of 20 subjects in the gallery showing. Now I am incredibly passionate about the cause mentioned on my shirt and completely honored to be a part of her vision. Here’s what Leslie wrote about the project:

“TALKING BACK aims to elucidate the dynamics of personal expression across the landscape of pop culture in America with a fashion monograph celebrating the unique personal essence of t-shirt culture and its power to convey the essential passions of its wearer. My subjects are real people and these are their real shirts. Some shirts were bought, some home made but all represent an extension of self that each subject wishes you to know or believe about them or to provoke a thought or stance. I resisted interviews and giving more information. What these subjects came with are all we present of them. The cycle of communication is then definitive upon viewing each subject, each message.”

My image is not out there in any of the marketing materials but I’m guessing that my subject matter is such a top-button topic that she’s holding it reserve. Here’s hoping that it illuminates the case of the West Memphis Three.

This project has me thinking about the issue of messages and agendas in terms of, well specifically actors, but artists in general. I have always been on the fence a bit about how to treat the social and political messages made by artists. There are ones that have moved me and ones that seemed glaringly inappropriate or circumstantially misguided. I think the problem is not that artists have social or political agendas and opinions but trouble begins when people say/think/believe that those opinions have a greater value or more weight than any other individual. This works both ways, people substituting some celebrity’s viewpoints for his/her own as well as people chastising celebrities for speaking out.

I applaud the choices made by many artists to speak out in Congress and in the media, raising awareness about issues by leveraging their notoriety. It can be a paradigm shift, such as the One.org campaign. I think that what I need to remember as I navigate the web of media is that anyone can make a difference. I know, it sounds so very Pollyanna of me, but it’s true. Okay, maybe my thoughts and beliefs cannot carry the weight or impact of George Clooney’s Darfur statements, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try or I shouldn’t be involved. But also, it doesn’t mean that he’s implicitly right simply because he’s a superstar (although I happen to strongly agree with him in this situation). Like most things in life; it’s a matter of scope and perspective.

I guess, as I prepare for the wishful hope that my artistic presence/profile grows, I should consider this. Realize that my words or actions could have an impact on others. But really, don’t they already? As simply a daughter, a co-worker or a friend? I mean, I value what the people around me think, believe, feel and talk about on a daily basis. I try to be well informed and educated about the world and my circle is a great resource.

It can be noisy though, and crowded, out there. Social media keeps the conversations zipping around the world and back again in a moment, without a break. I think that’s why Leslie’s show is going to strike a chord with people and hoping make an impact. Because she is using images. We live in a world filled with tweets and sound bites and talking heads. But pictures, they force you to stop and simply look. And from what I’ve seen so far, the pictures in this show are inspiring and amusing and shocking and powerful. Isn’t that what we all want to be? The best, smartest, provocative versions of ourselves? Informed and involved.

If you are in or around New York City next week, I’d love to hear what you think about the show so stop by and then let me know. Thank you as always for reading.


What I’m digging this week: New York Cares (city-wide event Oct 17th) & the excerpt chapter from Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book Crush It!

Dream Role: Nan/Lina in Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg

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