Photo: Wine barrels in the basement of Preston Castle, Ione, CA.
Each of us has our own little set of ugly memories from the past. Some are lucky enough to face those “uglies” and move forward with Buddha-like enlightenment. Others wallow in the darkness and make unhealthy choices to drown out the nightmarish pain. The rest of us make the decision to seal our memories up neatly in accessible compartments somewhere in our depths. We can’t quite let them go and continue to pay visits to these dusty barrels in our basements. On occasion, we lift the lid slowly to peek inside and take measure of how far we have come since those moments existed in real-time. Then we seal them up again in a controlled manner. Every visit provides a certain measure of inspiration. It is a bizarre obsession with the dark side of human memory. Like a double-edged sword that cuts flesh with every contact. We risk a bit of blood just to turn our words into poems, our photographs into art, or our brush strokes into a masterpiece.
I believe that’s why I am drawn to take photographs of abandoned buildings and broken people. There is just something about the crumbled walls, the twisted echos of life, the pain etched in faces, that rings true to the barrels in my own basement; the ugly memories of my own sordid pain. When I wander the dark hallways or meet a lonely soul on the streets, I feel a strange kinship with the emptiness. A kind of weathered sense of well-earned empathy that drives me to click the shutter and suck them in through my lens. My desire is to preserve that moment for an eternity with photos that can be hung on my wall to study, to identify with, to serve as inspiration through a form of safe and distant observation. Much easier than climbing the rickety steps down into my own basement to lift that heavy lid and to feel it all over again. To journey down and feel it too often would be nothing less than suicide by muse. So I will continue to seek my inspiration from the past in well-measured doses. I am comfortable with the fact that living through my own ugly memories has made me that much stronger and more open to personal expression through my own form of art.