dA love for everyone! #106

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I hope you will find this informative and entertaining!

Interviewed artist: fourthwall :iconfourthwall:

:bulletyellow: Tell us what defines you as a person.

That's a huge question to wrap my arms around... I'll try to answer it as succinctly as possible. At the most base level, I am defined by my faith (evangelical Christian), love for the diversity and multiplicity of our world, and a desire to engage openly and honestly with that diversity. Hence my pursuit of photojournalism, rather than a more choreographed photographic style. My best friends have radically different worldviews than I do (an atheist, an agnostic, a Jew, and a Muslim), and we respectfully challenge each other often. As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other. My worldview as a Christian, and my engagement with the varying and contrary worldviews all around me through photography and conversation, are what most defines me.

:bulletyellow: How did you find out about deviantART and why did you join the community?

I found out about Deviantart many years ago when I was in high school, and joined as a way to connect and share with fellow artists. I am still doing that to this day, and I've found few artistic communities that consistently deliver up art of such caliber. It's very inspiring for me in my own artistic pursuits.

:bulletyellow: When and how did you discover your passion for art?

Pinpointing the moment when I discovered my passion for art is a daunting task (maybe because the line between life and art is very blurry to begin with). I began taking photography seriously as an art while in high school, after inheriting my father's Canon A-1. I still have that camera and use it on occasion, when I feel the need to work more viscerally with my photos. There is something unique to film and the process of development and printing that separates it very starkly from digital.

:bulletyellow: What inspires you the most and when do you think your creativity is at its maximum?

I am most inspired by the work of fellow artists and my work is at its best when I am telling what I call "chest stories".

In the world of photography, artists like Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, and Steve McCurry open me up to the heights that can be achieved in our medium, and I find myself perpetually challenged by excellent work like theirs. Painters like John Singer Sargent and JW Waterhouse also do the same.

"Chest stories" are those stories which tap into something fundamentally human, something so poignant that it produces a physical reaction because it speaks so strongly to its audience. For me, that reaction feels like someone is tying strings through my chest and then pulling them all at once, so I call them "chest stories".

:bulletyellow: What do you think you'd be doing if you hadn't chosen this path?

If I hadn't chosen this particular path, I would simply be walking one parallel to it. The need to tell stories is ingrained in me, so if I had never picked up photography, I would be using an alternate method that achieved the same end.

:bulletyellow: What do you think it's your most meaningful deviation and what makes it special? Does it have a story behind it?

One of my favorites deviations is Church of the Holy Sepulcher, taken while is Israel. The reason is two-fold, for both what is shows and what it doesn't show.

The church, located in the heart of Jerusalem, is co-operated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the animosity between each group is incredible. The floor has been clearly delineated to show which half belongs to which church, and it's not uncommon to see an argument break out between two priests of each faction when one sweeps in an area not designated for them.

At the same time though, there is a sense of majesty to that building that is amplified by its historical significance. The church is built on the site of Golgotha, or "Place of the Skull", where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. This makes it one of the most precious landmarks of the Christian faith. Hardly a 5 minutes walk from there is the Western Wall, sacred to the Jewish faith, and just beyond the Dome of the Rock, sacred to the Muslim faith. So much of the world's history hinges on what took place in that city 2000 years ago, and the weight of it all is palpable.

By kneeling low to the ground to look up, using high contrast, an unorthodox angle, and competing lines, I was able to capture (hopefully!) that sense of complexity and majesty, while also effectively framing out the evidence of strife at eye-level. I was able to tell the story of higher (both literally and figuratively) subject matter.

:bulletyellow: Do you have any insecurities regarding your art?

Naturally, any artist wants to excel at their chosen medium, so when I look at other photographers' work and am blown away by their talent, it makes me hesitant to show my own work.

:bulletyellow: Did art ever helped you to deal with your life problems?

Absolutely, though sometimes art itself is the life problem! Art is a way for me to express and share myself with others, and photography in particular is uniquely suited to showing others how the world looks through my eyes. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and I have many, many words to share with the world.

:bulletyellow: What is the one thing you always wanted to do but never got a chance to?

Visit Antarctica. I'll be visiting Africa this coming summer (keep an eye out for those photos!), and once that trip is complete I'll have set foot on every continent except Antarctica. There is something primal about that continent that draws me to it. It is so untouched that it feels like one of the last places on earth I could go to and feel absolutely alone.

:bulletyellow: A few words for our fellow artists?

To all my fellow artists: don't place the responsibilities of life and your art at odds with each other. The result is always frustration and a sense of failure. Pursuing a career in art doesn't mean you have to be starving and sleeping on your friend's couch, and getting a "normal" job doesn't mean you gave up on your art. If you can't make ends meet financially from your art, don't be a sloth and mooch off those around you. Be studious and find a job that leaves you with enough time and emotional energy to pursue your passion in your free time. The better you become at your art, the better your chance of making a living doing it. Remember Proverbs 22:29 - "Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men."

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