When I was little my parents and I took a trip to Scotland. The place was completely different from my home. I wanted to get right back on that plane and I wanted it to fly me back to my country, my warm bed, my home. My uncle Alan met us outside the airport in his little black taxi. It was dark outside and I was exhausted, but I remember the smell. It smelled like cold and rain and freshly mowed grass. We stayed at my uncle’s house and when we first went in we were besieged by beautiful images of tall, dark forests where if you looked long and hard enough you felt as though you were there amongst the trees. You could hear the sounds of birds flying through leaves and chirping at one another. Other framed photos held rocky beaches, the tide coming in, the feeling of gloom oozed from the sun bleached drift wood.
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You could almost feel the spray of cold water sprinkling your visage and a mournful, contentment filling your whole being. I was only seven, but that was when I knew I wanted to make these pictures, too. I wanted to make worlds come alive for anyone who looked at them.
The images on my uncle’s wall were all his and I thought that if my goof of an uncle could put his own photographic fantasias on the wall then so could I. I knew if I worked hard enough I could invoke imagination into the minds of people older, younger and cooler than me through photography. The way I see it, the world is a big photograph waiting to be framed.
A few years after our visit, I joined the community center’s art classes. Every other student in the class was either in their twenties or older and then there was me, a little twelve year old kid with an ancient Olympus film camera her mom bought in Japan in the late ‘80’s. I’m not going to lie, it was intimidating at first. My class went through five teachers over the course of three years. All of them with different ideas of what art means coming from avant garde imaginations. Always creating radiant, electric, bewitching images. But, at the beginning of eighth grade my mom decided that classes were having a negative effect on her wallet. I was disappointed. No, that’s putting it lightly, I was utterly distraught. I loved my class with all my heart. It was a home away from home. I couldn’t imagine not being in my precious class. It was exactly like a piece of me was being savagely ripped from the whole.
My school had mixed arts classes and I signed up for those but a small part of me was worried that it wouldn’t be the same. When I walked through the classroom door I was overwhelmed with all the vibrant colours and natural light coming from the floor to ceiling windows along the back wall. I had become accustomed to the sharply lit fluorescence of all my other classrooms and this was a welcome surprise. The smell was a pleasant mixture of oil paints, developer and printer ink. It was like walking into a faerie land, if faerie land was a cluttered classroom filled with eager students wanting to get elbow deep in some water colours. I didn’t know any of the other kids in class but I wasn’t worried, I would get to know their names and the people attached to them later. Right then I was in heaven and enjoying it.
Finding my new art class happened in junior high. I’m a senior in high school now and have taken all the available photo classes. I have a few Best in Show awards and a book cover to give me a little push into starting a career in photography but there is still so much to learn. I’m excited and ready to get started. I’m hoping (INSERT SCHOOL HERE) can become my new home away from home.