“Imagine a world without color, sound or feeling. Creativity is not limited to sense, yet, without it, our creativity remains partially or completely blocked. Digital innovation allows fine-arts to be reborn – for everyone.”
~ Maria Lehtman
What if you lost one of your senses overnight? What if you never had one? How would you unlock your creativity without physical capabilities aiding your self-expression?
AT THE CRADLE OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
“Creativity is not selective – we all have it, we all need to express it. Digital technology enables people to be their favorite artists.” ~ Maria Lehtman
Back in 2005 when digital art and cameras picked up in the consumer world, I established a company for digital photography as a passionate hobby in addition to my main line of work in telecommunications. I saw people become inspired by the digital tools brought to market: digital photographing and printing on glass, fabric, wood, canvas, and metal – more or less any material you could think of.
I had as many customers creating art from their images as buying mine. For the first time, I felt a real change in the world of art. It was no longer limited to a title, education, location, heritage or funding (depending naturally on one’s general resources).
My dream continued – and today more and more digital technology is enabling people to keep bringing their original memories and ideas alive.
Six years later I had to make a tough decision to close down my own business. I had opportunities in my day-to-day work to learn more about being a leader and a coach to others. To balance the stress, I needed less administration and more creativity in my free time (such as it was).
THE TRUE DIGITAL GIFT – ENABLING THE DISABLED
“The greatest gift digital technology can bring is to unite innovation, creativity, and healing.” ~ Maria Lehtman
Six years from that point on my initial goal remains unchanged: to promote enablement through digital art, especially digital photography. It can help in healing and enable people. There is scientific evidence to it. For some, the evidence needs to be factual, and for others feeling better about themselves is sufficient.
During spring 2017 I came across an agency on Twitter (@noswhynot): Nos, Why Not? founded in Galicia, Spain. The organization is dedicated to support and enable photographers with intellectual disabilities. With the agency’s permission I am sharing a quote from their mission:
“People with intellectual disabilities are still discriminated against by society. Two of the main causes of this discrimination are the lack of empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities (am I useful? What do I do?), and their visibility (where are these people? What do they do?) –
The photography is great to solve this situation. It facilitates empowerment (take the camera and take the photo) and the visibility (we photograph this event). Photography gives them a leading role. If to all this we join the use of the social networks, with a spirit of sharing and collaborating, also we obtain a structure that gives force to them.” – “Nos, Why Not?” Agency for Photographers with Intellectual Disabilities
Nos, Why Not? is currently creating the first bank of images made by photographers with disabilities. Their current beta site is available at http://noswhynot.photoshelter.com. The site has wonderful images, filled with passion. Visibility through photography is an immense improvement in the limited social life many disabled people endure.
Today we find a growing number of hospitals and institutions helping patients to recover from mental and physical illnesses applying photographs and photography successfully in their therapy programs.
“ART IS TO CONSOLE THOSE WHO ARE BROKEN BY LIFE”
~ Vincent Van Gogh
If you still think great artists come from privileged societies with inherited artistic genealogy – imagine more. The word ‘artist’ is a misleading word. I feel humbled to accept it myself when people recognize me for my photographic skills.
I have a passion for sharing expressions, feelings, and beauty – most of all – to help others in healing, and heal myself. In comparison to my fellow photographers with physical disabilities, my chronic illnesses are small obstacles, a battle of will.
Every time I meet a person who is suffering from physical or mental illness, I encourage them to take photographs. The world through the lens, whether mobile or camera, is focused. The narrowed view locks you into the present. Everything else disappears.
For a moment, the whole world is capsuled in a single frozen flower, a snowflake, an old rusty doorknob. I may forget that the outside temperature is -20°C (-4.0°F), or that there is a gut-wrenching wind around me. Photographing gives me a liberating feeling.
The artists who are recognized have dedicated their lives to it. And, yet, there are many more with talent and never acknowledged or even enabled to realize it. The limitation exists in societies driven by productivity and discrimination. The actual constraint is in our mind.
Social media and digital art can unlock a passion, provide social acceptance and a route for healing for anyone. I urge you not to let that opportunity pass you by. If you have the resources to share knowledge, funding, social and business networks, material, ideas, etc., pace down to help others.
“I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
For More Reading:
HPAA The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS: Photographic Art in Hospitals Aids The Healing Process
STAT News: Photos, even selfies, have the power to heal
IM Institute of Mental Health: Using Photography as Therapy