Italy has changed me. It was so clear to me on our recent trip to Switzerland, where the perfectly clean and cared for towns were pretty, but not so inspiring to me artistically. Where was the texture, the peeling paint? Where was the reality, the truth? It seemed too perfect. Like a wall erected between me and the place. Just look at the pretty picture, admire the beauty, move on. Distracting me by the surface.
But what’s underneath the surface? That’s what I want to know. What is it like inside? What I see in the buildings and towns I visit is a metaphor for what is going on inside of me. I could have the perfect, controlled, beautiful exterior, but at what internal cost? Perhaps at the cost of creativity, the cost of self-expression. Or I can have an exterior that is not quite perfect, a little bit flawed, that doesn’t follow all the rules, but is full of internal life and energy. Allows for a creative expression of the self. But with that must come honesty, an awareness and acceptance of the flaws.
Which do I want?
It might seem an easy question, of course I want the texture, the energy, the life. I want all of the creativity that comes along with it. But to get that I have to truly recognize and accept the flaws, the light and dark places inside of me. Boy, is that hard.
I guess the fact that I’m recognizing this is a start. The fact that I’m seeing the light and dark both, choosing the texture and peeling paint, feels right. Feels real. And I am amazed at how, once again, I learn about myself through my art. I can’t hide when I express myself creatively, all of me is there, in the images I create. My photographs have something to show me, they show something of me, beyond the surface impressions.
Right now, they are showing me that my time in Italy has changed me. No doubt about it.