My brother and I attended a fairly small Catholic grade school in a tiny poverty stricken town. The highlight of the 1966 school year was having a nun that spoke with a strong New York accent and went by the name, Sister Francis of Assisi. She was fairly down to earth and let us 5th graders in on some of her college shenanigans. Once, she and some other college nuns in training had gotten in deep trouble for putting soap suds in her very proper college school fountain. She let it slip that the farmer next door to the campus didn't have a sense of humor about her and her classmates sneaking out at night with buckets, relieving him of his strawberries growing in the fields. We loved her and all the boys admitted we had a crush on her.
One Christmas, right before break she treated us to a slide show she created, accompanied by music. It was a series of photographs she had taken in and around New York City, linked to the music of Simon and Garfunkel's, "Sounds of Silence." I was 9 years old and I had never seen anything like this in my life.
My father always had a camera within arms reach or in the trunk of his car and he shot the most interesting photographs. On one occasion he captured a young kitten terrorizing two young puppies. He also traveled around with the Postal Service and managed to take some pretty amazing vintage photographs of outdated and humorous, rustic Postal Stations.
Dad purchased subscriptions for many camera magazines and had piles of those stacked all over the house. I opened one of those magazines one day and saw a picture that I never forgot. It was a photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson that was entitled the Aquilla degli Abruzzi. It had so much depth that I could not believe it could fit into a two dimensional photo on a page. I could see stairs going down and hills traveling up and there was activity in the foreground, middle ground and background. After seeing that photograph, I wanted to be a photographer.
When I was a freshman in high school in 1972, my dad was test driving a car and my brother and I plopped in for the ride. I don't remember too much about the car except that it had a loud, kicking stereo that was playing ridiculously beautiful music. As it turns out, he didn't like the car and returned it to the dealer but the music stuck in my head. It was the first time I had heard the rock group, Yes and the album called "Fragile." My brother ended up buying the album and one night I sat down with some headphones and listened to it, beginning to end. While doing this I read the text and the beautifully rendered art and photos by brothers Roger and Martyn Dean that accompanied the album.
Something had happened in the process of hearing the music together while looking at the art. A synthesis had occurred, a marriage between two forms of art, music and illustration. They somehow complimented each other and at that point I wanted to be an artist.
Today, I do both. I am a photographer an artist and a curator. We may never know how the little things we do everyday may be influencing the next generation of artists. Be mindful of the little ones around you and encourage them, teach them, and help them. Seeds are being planted in young minds, even now.