Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
On that first trip to Cuba, I began what would become a family tradition: the pouring over and selecting of photographs for my collection. Tia Rosita was the keeper of all family heirlooms and all photographs were carefully preserved in plastic shopping bags. Piles of fairy-tale snapshots sat neatly, one on top of another, with little regard to rhyme or reason. In any one bag you could find images of my first day at school, sent from Miami, with pictures of my mother’s quinceañera party in front of the ancient house in Vazques. Sitting Indian-style on my grandmother's old stiff bed in my family’s museum, I gravitated towards those beautiful old photographs and interviewed my aunt.
“Who is this young guy standing next to Rafael?” I would ask.
“That is your father, niña… when he used to have hair,” she would reply with a smile.
The bags of inconsistency would morph into neatly organized timelines. Right next to me would sit my most prized possession: the collectables Tia Rosita was allowing to disappear from her life forever. When she had had enough, and it was time to put the bags away, she'd examine the photographs one last time. Slowly sifting through the Miami-bound collection, she would stop for a few short seconds on every single image, burning them into her memory. A small tear would greet the side of her face and she would say:
“Ay niña, I can’t believe you love such old things. Enjoy them, but you better send me new ones!”
Each and every time I returned home from visiting family in Cuba, my mother would reprimand me for arriving with these gifts. It is an unspoken rule that after a trip to Cuba you return to Miami with almost none of your belongings. It was especially embarrassing for my mother to contend with the fact that I even so much as had the gall to ask for something, when my sole mission was to give. But, to my mother’s continued horror, I could never ignore my fascination and love for black & white film and continued to amass quite the series over 7 trips. I recently rediscovered my old flame, after relying on the instant gratification of digital for so long. And this week, I’m purchasing a Nikon FM10 35mm camera to finally send Tia Rosita some new ones.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
On a recent bike ride through Liberty State Park, I came upon an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and it got me pondering over the idea of inspiration as a multifarious experience. Although we all understand it to be one noun, inspiration looks, feels and results in an infinite number of possibilities. When you come upon your muse it is one of the most original and intimate events that you can be aware of. In the instance where one shares an inspirational moment, the conclusions remain limitless. And in the very rare occasions where many share a muse and a similar dream, the aha! moment can never belong to anyone but yourself.
The Statue of Liberty, as the most iconic symbol for freedom, has inspired over 22 million immigrants as they passed through Ellis Island. There are very few creative influences today that can claim to have inspired 22 million distinct sensations.
When lightning strikes me, my soul propels upward like the launch of a space shuttle. It takes off from the pit of my stomach and rockets through the center of my electrified heart, warming my inner atmosphere. It all concludes in a brilliant fireworks display that kisses my skin with fading light, as the flash of light simmers down.
What inspires you and what does that moment feel like?