Longing to be me again is something I often catch myself doing. Reminiscing the days when I was social, when I wore make up and cared about what people thought. Sometimes it’s nice to just dress up and be complimented. These days there is more quiet in my diet and less chatter. I introvert some times of the year, reflect on my growth and think about where I want to go from here.
Duality has taken me to many places in and out of my mind. I always end up back where I start. Some call it full circle, I call it refueling. Gathering my-selves and estimating our worth. I’ve learned so much and feel like I’m just beginning. Not starting over, just moving in a different direction. Changing my sway, my swagger… but still to a beat. The music never stops for me, it just changes tempo.
I was born and raised in the Southern states of America. My mother and father, both from very poor families, met during the Vietnam-American war. I grew up on Army bases with an older brother as my guardian and my hero. He was a natural artist and could sketch or paint anything he imagined. I was always envious of the artist in him. I lived in his shadow until I moved to California.
At the age of 21, I left the South to pursue an education and find my path. I spent the next decade taking darkroom courses and working full time to pay for my California lifestyle. During my time as a business consultant for Apple, I had a break down. I had gotten very ill and spent time in the hospital recovering after a life saving surgery. It was a turning point for many aspects in my life. I decided to follow my dreams of becoming an artist and getting a degree in something I was passionate about. I applied to the undergraduate program at the Academy, it was 2008.
It has been a long road to recovery, mentally. I had fallen into a depression that would last over five years. This emotional roller coaster is how I fueled my creative spiral. I used the photography as therapy and my emotions as concepts. During my undergrad I learned about photography technically and conceptually. I learned about color and light and experimental methods of capture and print. I was so distracted by the academics and technicalities of art, I was able to push through my dark times.
Much of my duality stems directly from my life experiences. During and after my depression, I came to second guess myself and quickly become indecisive. The smallest tasks became enormous obstacles. I became agoraphobic, not leaving the safety of my bed, my island. It was these soul wrenching moments that I used to express myself. I began to shoot myself out of need of a subject then eventually my self portraits turned into my need to express myself, my therapy.
I used myself to learn lighting and conceptual thinking. I also used myself to push my Photoshop skills and composite. I used my own experiences, my own body and mind to produce pieces of my mind. Only recently was I able to convey my vision exactly as I see it in my head. All of the pieces I learned over the years started to come together this year. My confidence as a photographer is finally catching up to me and I can see the growth in my work.
The evolution of my Duality project is visually apparent. The images revealed where I was both mentally and technically in my work. I was using Photoshop to composite and beautiful landscapes to help create a surreal world, to construct my realities. The project was my therapy and my distraction.
Now in the second stage of development, I have grown as a photographer and a narrator. In these images, I’ve grown to appreciate my second nature and even nurture it. Technically the images are more dynamic, less flat. There is more of a commercial feel to them with a better quality of light and contrast. I feel that I am not just a photographer, but a conceptual story teller.
While I was roaming the aisles of nerds and celebs for Comic Con San Diego, 2013….. I came across a newspaper. Inside is a picture of a girl, taking a picture of my work at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It totally made my day, week and just made Comic Con actually cool. I’m always surprised when others relate to my work. It’s actually pretty scary. The work is titled, “Searching”, it’s a really dark scene. About searching for someone after they have left us for good. Some days the search never ends in my little hollow heart. I love you Makai and still find myself searching for you out of the corners of my eye.
Kai and I went down to Scripps in La Jolla. He loved the aquariums, he is a true Aquarius. Here are some of the jellyfish we encountered dancing a ballad. They look like underwater butterflies. I love them, they make us smile.