A question I’ve asked myself many times over the years. I used to define myself as to my job. I was a print production manager. That was only one small faction. Now I look to define myself more as a person. Yes, I still attach labels, it is what most people understand easily. But really – who am I?
I am a person with infinite qualities. Like and unlike others all at the same time. I have the capacity to love and to be loved. I am touched and I feel. Beauty is my essence, it’s the way I look at the world, but not through rose colored glasses. I look deeper to find what is wonderful about humans, nature and inanimate objects. (Every once in a while, there can be little to be found), I don’t take things for granted, all that is in life is impermanent (except maybe for some things in landfills).
When my daughter was a toddler, we would walk to the supermarket a few minutes away, we would stop every couple of feet to look at a leaf or bug. To really look at it from all angles and appreciate it for it’s structure, the many legs of a caterpillar, how it undulates it’s body as it forges forward or how intricate and different the veins in leaves are. My first instinct was to hurry her along, let’s go we have things to do. Things??? Like dusting or vacuuming. I think that can wait. I wonder if she was even remembers those moments. But it doesn’t matter, I do! Life should not be rushed because as you get closer to the end, death comes all too soon. I still like to look at things that way.
With age comes some semblance of wisdom or at least I’d like to think so. I’m wise enough to know to cherish what is really important in life – and that’s people, not possessions. I could have the biggest house, but without family or friends to enjoy it, it would just be a big, very lonely house.
Back to who am I? I fashion myself as an artist, I’m far from a creative genius but none-the-less, I take the time to look at and appreciate my surroundings. I like the nuances, I bring out subtle emotions – sometimes with strong images. I want people to try to follow my eye when they look at an image that I captured. It’s rarely a blaring statement – nothing that would catch your attention like the clap of thunder, I want you to be drawn closer as you would by a whisper and to wonder what was running through my mind.
Now for the Why am I here part… I’m guessing because that particular sperm collided with the egg at the precise moment so that the chromosones/DNA structure created me. I am here to pass through people’s lives. Hopefully the experience is/was or will be a good one. We all leave our mark on others as we go on our journey. Even some negative lessons can become the best learning experience of your lifetime. We all give and take something along the way. We become the sum of our parts – who we are because of those who touched us. I hope that the parts of me that I left with you were good or at least turned bad into good. A few people will say that having me in their lives had an effect on them – maybe I didn’t alter the lives, just made the times spent together more worth while.
That’s the impact I will have… no great legacy. I probably won’t discover the cure for cancer, but if you are in my life, I hope that I will be remembered As an artist, I think I have been able to touch some more people as they stop to view my photography at a gallery or even hanging on their walls. I like to share how I look at things and make you pause, if only for a moment, and see what I see. Life – it’s oh so worth living when you look at it in terms of what is really important.
Of course, my friends, family, loved ones have shaped me. Some people just pass through and without knowing effect a change. The warmth of the Cambodian people have done that.
8 days of walking the streets of Siem Reap and Phnom Pehn have touched me so deeply that I and husband Jene Youtt knew that we wanted to do something to give back. While we were there, we found out that a well known photographer who is based in NY, had a vision of building a free children’s hospital, Angkor Hospital for Children is his legacy. Through auctions and other fundraisers he saw his dream come true. Without having met Kenro Izu, he altered our lives. The next year we had found through Friends Without A Border that we can not only become members but can donate our art to help raise much needed dollars. At the first auction we raised $1000 dollars with art collectors bidding for our work. I was honored to chat with Kenro Izu and told him that I was humbled to be a part of his dream. We have been a part of fulfilling the needs of the hospital and rural clinics that he and FWAB set in motion. This year, FWAB is holding an online auction of 44 pieces of art up for bid. This auction is being run through Bidding for Good through December 18th. And if you are in NYC on Dec. 5th , there is a live event at Tenri Cultural Institute of NY, 43A West 13th Street from 7 – 9 pm. It is free and open to the public. Please take a look at the 44 prints that are on the auction block. It’s a worthy cause and your gift will be appreciated by more than just the recipient of your gift. Bid generously.
Jene’s image is called Blue and mine is Deux Orchids