by Ronni Knepp
My mom told me a long time ago that we are all made to do something specific and when we don’t do it, then we become unhappy. For me, I’m prone depression and anxiety anyway; hazards to PTSD and all. After we lost my sister 4 years ago, I stopped doing anything creative. I took a couple semesters off from school and just focused on life. Mainly I was busy moving from Texas to Virginia at the time along with dealing with the kids and family life in general. But, to be totally honest, I was depressed as well and had no motivation to do anything creative.
At one point I became so depressed and felt this very weird pull/need to do something creative, so about 3 years ago I taught myself how to crochet, again (mom had taught me when I was little but I couldn’t remember how). In the matter of a few months I had crocheted 6 blankets and after that another 5 or so. Since then I have picked up multiple other hobbies and crafting capabilities. I have also started incorporating mixed media applications into my photography. It’s made my work unique to me as an artist as well as a bit cathartic because, as my mom said, I am an artist first and foremost.
These past few weeks it’s been pretty well known that I’ve struggled with coming up with my thesis concept. I was too process focused to be able to nail down a concept solid enough and my “old soul” resonates more with photographers like Weston, Stieglitz, etc. then it does with more contemporary artists. I was in such a funk that I failed miserably at an experiment with one thesis image idea and my photographic abilities, even technically, have been faltering in my Self as Subject class. I have been working outside of my niche and while there’s certainly something to be said about pushing our comfort zones, there’s also something important to note about working within our own styles.
Last week I went back to my own style of work. While I am still trying to figure out my process for my thesis, I’m getting slightly closer to how I want it to look and for Self as Subject I was able to work within my own abstracted, minimalistic style. Let’s just say I was in a MUCH better mood by the end of the week. I felt more comfortable knowing that although I was experimenting, I was showing work that spoke to who I am as an artist and a creator. I’m sure my therapist will be happy to hear I am not as bad off as I was two weeks ago! Ha!
So, all this being said… I think it’s absolutely important to follow Henry Horenstein’s to “shoot what you love.” Be creative and push the envelope, sure! But do not forget who you are in your art either.