In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit advocates for the experience of living with uncertainty. The pursuit of not knowing, of no clear destination, she proposes, opens up possibilities and a space in which we might see ourselves and the world anew.
The past several years have felt like a seismic upheaval where personal, social, political and racial topographies have shifted and been displaced. The choice to embark upon an MFA amidst all of this has been doubly confounding, a conscious decision to step into the unknown, into undiscovered territory, an attempt to find personal forms of expression.
The restriction of remaining in place, at home, in our local communities, which at first seemed like an obstruction, became an invitation to turn our gaze towards things that might not otherwise have come into view. To have the medium and tradition of photography as a companion allowed us to be in the world and make meaning in an essential and sustaining way.
Art making takes time. If nothing else, undertaking an MFA program has been a way to steal this time from the world, to give to ourselves and our deepest inklings and concerns, a space to play with ideas that at first view seemed cumbersome and unformed. To pose questions that might be unwelcome or misconstrued in other places.
Holding space for each other, a space of critique and care, has allowed for experiments, false starts, and attempts to articulate our deeper intentions. A space to offer each other insights, possibilities for the work, and humor when things seemed dire. In a frenetic world of culture wars and nagging algorithms vying for our attention, a space for listening and contemplation has been radical and foundational. To learn how to build and sustain a personal practice, a way of being in relation to the world, a stronger belief in our abilities to make images—to express ideas that words cannot yet convey—is a significant resource.
Without these diversions from the path, we might not have emerged differently than when we set out.
Text by Drew Waters