Today is Charles Sheeler's birthday (July 16, 1883 - May 7, 1965). Sheeler was a painter, as well as a commercial photographer. I really like this quote because it addresses my own interests in this creative journey I am on.
I sometimes feel that I have a foot in both of these worlds, painting and photography. Unfortunately, I have found over the years that there are some people (mostly people who consider themselves artists) who need yet another way to put you in some category, some box, as if you simply MUST declare one, and only one, “major” in life.
I have had at least two different painting instructors advise me that I should not pursue photography because photography is “not art”. Firstly, I suggest that they should take up that issue with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) because they have been collecting photographs since 1928, as well as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that first exhibited photography as art in the early 1930’s.
Secondly, I will spare you my soapbox and list of ways that such statements concern me, and just tell you that when I have experienced such statements, I did not waste anymore time or resources on their classes and/or organizations. My respect for their knowledge as a teacher or colleague, as well as their potential as contributors to my progress as an artist was irrevocably shattered. Interestingly, I have NEVER had a fellow photographer discourage my interest in painting. No, they generally reserve their discrimination for specific genres within photography and/or the gear that you use, but not other disciplines.
So, if Charles Sheeler can have a foot in both mediums, so can I. His quote captures exactly how I see the two mediums. I can take this further, and, dare I say, hold it out as an example of how the two disciplines inform each other. In fact, I believe all of the arts inform and influence each other; IF you are willing to collaborate. Which makes me question the reason why these “artists” are so threatened by a different form of creativity and expression? Why do they feel the need to justify their chosen medium/genre as superior to all other artistic pursuits? If artists like Matisse had been this myopic, we would not have his series which was influenced by Jazz music. Ansel Adams was a trained concert pianist and allowed that learned discipline to inform his darkroom work, and on and on and on. Oh, the joy they are missing, in my opinion. The exploration, learning, and allowing those experiences to inform you in exercising the creative muscle can only produce richer content. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.