I’ve been sitting at this computer for the past few days just trying to figure out how I wanted to structure this blog post. Much like composing a photograph, or more so, a series of photographs, I get very involved in the idea that I’m trying to work with. I think about it, flow back and forth between ideas, and very often end up with something that is far from the original idea that I had. That is exactly what this has become, something that is not even close to the neatly composed prose that I intended. I don’t know why I feel I have to be any more formal than I am on a day-to-day basis, but I guess that’s just how I am. All that said, though, I just wanted to update what has been going on.
Thanks to some encouragement and help from two people who are very close to me, I ended up in Venice, Italy, at the end of March to be at the Award Ceremony for the 13th edition of the Arte Laguna Prize. As some of you may already know, I was selected as a finalist in the Photographic Arts category, along with 24 other artists. I have to admit, it was humbling, and even more so when I got to see the works selected by the other photographers. It wasn’t until I got there that I found out just how large the group that work was selected from was. With all categories combined, there were 8000 applicants, and 120 selected finalists; if that wasn’t humbling enough, finding out that I was one of 25 photographers selected from 1500 was.
Along with photography, there were works in the categories of Painting, Sculpture and Installation, Video Art and Short Film, Performance, Virtual Art, Digital Graphics, Land Art, Urban Art, and Design. The exhibition was at the Venice Arsenale and took up two large, warehouse sized buildings. I’m not much of a writer when it comes to describing things like this, but the quality of work was cutting edge, and museum quality… All of it. I don’t want to overuse the word, but it was definitely humbling to be included in this group of fine emerging and established artists alike. They like to consider themselves the lead-in to the Biennale, and I don’t think that it would be a hard task to sell that concept to anyone. If you are interested in checking out what the prize is, you can find information at their website, in multiple languages, here: https://www.artelagunaprize.com
In case you were wondering, I was not awarded with the top prize in my category, but that in no way diminished the experience that I had. It was the biggest thing I think, as an artist, that I’ve ever been involved in. It gave me the feeling that I can legitimately call myself an artist, but more so that my work is getting noticed beyond me just showing it to people. I find that I feed on the feeling that things aren’t good enough, but still desire to feel like they are “good enough”, and this has shown me that I am doing something right. There is still more work to be done, as there always is, but it’s relieving to know that I’m going in the right direction.
To top all of this experience off, I was fortunate that we got to Venice the evening before the award ceremony, so we only had about half a day before the big event. After it was over, though, we had three full days to explore Venice. I will say this, if you’re planning on going to Venice, make sure you can spend a couple of days, and try to go before it gets hot and super crowded. The weather was amazing, the crowds weren’t horrible, and we got to do a lot, however, there was so much more that we didn’t get to do. It now holds a very special place in my heart, both professionally and personally. We got away from the normal touristy areas and made some memories that will be specifically ours, as I always encourage people to do, but also had some wonderful moments enjoying the typical tourist sights. Venice, like the majority of Italy, is amazing!
To sum all of this up, I just want to make a point to anyone who is unsure about making that next step with your work. Take a chance! I know you hear it all the time, but you never know when you’re going to be surprised and get an opportunity and honor that will blow your mind. I had so many friends, peers, and family encourage me to do the same, and it took me time to realize it, but I now am constantly striving to do better. You’ll never know what you can do until you take the opportunity to give it a shot. For me, this has been a wonderful experience that I would have been content with just being a part of. I didn’t get a prize, but not only did I get experience and inclusion in a wonderful group of work, I got exposure that I couldn’t get anywhere else. It is already paying off and I couldn’t be any happier, but I never would have been here if I hadn’t taken the chance at taking another step.