In a Perfect World
When I was sixteen, my family vacationed at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was completely entranced. Everything in that world was perfect; to me, it truly was the Magic Kingdom. Even as a teenager, I was taken under its enchanted spell. It was a place where attention was paid to the tiniest detail; around every corner I experienced another incredible moment of color and fantasy and imagination.
I realize that the Disney vision is not reality; that it is an illusion, a façade, a designed creation of imaginative minds. But I love it anyway, even if it makes me naïve or unsophisticated or superficial.
And to some extent, it represents my approach to art. I like my art “pretty”. I understand from an intellectual standpoint the need for art that provokes; for art that shocks; for art that exposes the gritty underbelly of real life. I know how important this kind of art can be in changing the world; in changing societies; in blasting away stereotypes and biases. And while I admire that kind of artistic statement, it’s not the kind of art that I want to create.
I want magic. I want perfection. I want blue skies and crystalline snow; flowers and raindrops; autumn trees blazing with color. In my perfect world, there would never be dirty piles of slushy snow, slowly melting along the side of the road. And so, when faced with the fact of dirty snow piles, I look for the beauty hidden within. I try to create something lovely from the slush.
Okay, I realize that I am a mass of contradictions. After all, I specialize in taking photographs of trash I find on the street. I also like photos of rust and peeling paint. None of these things would exist in the Magic Kingdom, in a perfect world.
Maybe my goal is to see the world, in all its imperfection, as something exquisite. To find a way to turn the ugly duckling into a swan. To sprinkle a little fairy dust. To see a starfish in the ice.
As the man himself said:
If you can dream it, you can do it.
What do you find magical?
(I apologize if “It’s a Small World” is now playing on an endless loop in your head. It should disappear in a day or so. I promise.)