Novelist Moshin Hamid once wrote: "Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” If I was placed here to simply help “the cause” in any way, shape, or form, it would be to give a dose of empathy with each portrait I take.
By George Sifuentes
One might ask, what is this “cause” you speak of? While simple yet impossible to define, I think we can all agree that our times have provoked lines being drawn in the sand. Whether we are a community divided or a melting pot of generations misunderstood, it is our cause as artists to provoke connection via vision, interpretation, documentation, and style.
A solution is as enigmatic as our difference of opinion, and I apologize, but I'm not here to offer any answers. I myself have more questions than explanations; I am more curious than I am certain. All I offer is a spark, a thumb flick of curiosity in the hopes that for a fraction of a second, when someone sees a portrait I took, they simply wonder who is this person? What is their story?
A visual glimpse can provoke curiosity, possibly release a narrative that will provoke empathy; empathy can provoke education, and education can provoke change. One could discern an experience through a simple image, and all of a sudden, we find ourselves putting the information at our fingertips to use, searching for where this person is from, and what that region of the city/country is known for.
I offer nothing but a spark, a meek chance that a match falling out of the box strikes sandpaper on its short way down. It's difficult for me to accept the fact that my art can create any change. Most people don’t want to change, and if they they do, they will on their own cycle. My images are a drop in the ocean compared to what it takes to ignite real change.
Not to sell ourselves short, I know my comrades and I will keep working, walking, and searching for our image that can possibly do the trick. Striving to hit our visual slot machine jackpot like Eddie Adams' “Saigon Execution,” Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl,” or Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “Time Square Kiss” just to name a few.
In the meantime, the journey is far more enticing than the destination, trusting the process of possibility, and learning from more losses than wins. If, for a split second, your eyes share something in common with one of my subjects, who knows where the next set of eyes can take you. For now, it's a blessing that anyone joins me on my journey to create my American Gothic.
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