heart and eyes: an artist manifesto

Copyright: Kiana McCrackin


            I spent many frustrated hours as a child in my grandma’s art studio with a sketchbook covered in eraser shavings left over from mistakes made. I wanted so badly to be able to create the visions which were so vivid in my mind. I would gaze in agonized wonder at my Grandma and Mother’s beautiful pieces of art that portrayed real forms and shapes and I would compare them shamefully to my own canvas that was made up of ill-placed globs of paint.

 I have always been an artist. I saw beauty in what others found ugly: old beat up cars, monotonous city streets slicked with rain, my grandpa’s hair stubbled chin. I was never at a loss for ideas for paintings and sketches. I loved art galleries and studios; I thrived in a world of creation. I was an artist through and through, but I had no talent for art. I wanted so badly to express myself, to replicate the concepts in my mind and the fantasy’s in my heart onto paper for the rest of the world to see. I needed art. Without it, my soul and mind got too full and felt like it would surely burst. Art is an outlet for me; I can’t hold my dreams inside.

            My junior year of high school I stumbled into a beginning photography class because I needed an art credit to graduate. I had long since pushed my art under the surface. I hid my creations from the world and often from myself because they didn’t represent the ideas in my head. I chose photography class over a more standard art class because I was too embarrassed to paint or draw in front of others. I knew I had no talent for art, I had accepted it long ago. When I was told that I had an eye for photography I was flabbergasted. Finally, I had found a medium that I could use to express myself with. Finally, I had an outlet for all the creative juices that flowed freely in my body despite my best efforts to dam them.

            The ability to express the inner-workings of my soul is what I love most about photography. I truly believe that every photograph I take has a piece of me in it. I cannot create my images without subconsciously including my history, my present emotions, and my future dreams. My identity, my art, and my craft are all one; I cannot separate them. Chuck Place once said “The most personal work is usually the most universally appealing.” This is my goal: to create images which contain my spirit but make my spirit appealing to the rest of the world. When I shoot I try to be as true to myself as I can because if I’m not, my images turn out emotionless. When I photograph a model when I am sad, their faces and poses reflect this. Their eyes may be haunting and questioning, and their body huddled in upon itself as though afraid. When I photograph a model when I am happy the same is true, hair will fly, bodies will jump, and lips will curve up. My emotions leap off of the image though I don’t think of it consciously as I take the pictures.

            Everyone can relate to emotion. We all feel things deeply whether it is sadness or happiness, loneliness or love, passion or regret, hate or hope. At some point we have all felt every emotion there is. Therefore, an emotional image has the most appeal. My photographs will not be emotional if I do not include myself and my feelings in them. I hope to always shoot with my heart and mind at the wheel.