Saturday, November 11, 2023

Organizing Principles


This is my daughter’s collection of vintage cameras. She majored in photography at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and before that she attended an arts high school where she studied visual arts and specifically photography. She was the kind of gal who never went anywhere without her camera in tow. Her camera became emblematic of who she was and how she navigated her world--as an artist, a documentarian and an observer of the ordinary, yet profound moments in life.

As I write this, I'm in Baltimore visiting her. This arrangement of cameras is displayed on a wall in the family dining room. At first glance, this is just a grouping of old cameras, but arranged in this fashion they become more than the sum of their parts. Take a look at how neatly they're placed--three in a row, with each individual camera given ample space to breathe and shine. They ask the observer to stop and consider each camera and then to consider the whole and the power of a collection--the similarities and the differences.

Step back and the grouping becomes an intriguing art installation.

Creative Friends, take a look at your own personal collections. Reconsider the things you own that someone else might dismiss as mere clutter. Ask yourself what does the collection (or even the clutter) reveal about you--your dreams and wishes, your secret or not-so-secret identity. Your past. Your future. Your collections will have obvious common features. They're all pretty tea cups or everything on this shelf came from your late mother's house, or they simply represent your love of mid-century modern.

But now, I want you to ask yourself why these things resonate for you. Trace your history with the object. Consider your first encounter with the tea cup or that pink flamingo lawn ornament. Create a little movie in your mind. Imagine a kind of quest where you are you and you are searching for some mysterious thing. You are attracted to this object because you know it is a clue to something deep. Perhaps unfathomable.

As a creative person, you keep a treasure chest hidden in the attic of your mind, and your he humble collection is truly treasure made tangible. A tea cup is not just a tea cup. And a pink flamingo is not just a pink flamingo. It's a world. It’s a talisman. A road map. A guiding principle.

Friends, treasure your treasures and go forth and be creative.



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