Almost 30 years ago now I picked up a biography about Alfred Stieglitz by Sue Davidson Lowe. This was an important book for me, and over the years I have read it several times. It was at the beginning of my career and an introduction to a pivotal time in photographic history. Being a pure force of nature, Stieglitz moved photography from the 19th to the 20th Century. However, the idea that I kept coming back to time and time again as I read the book was the photographic and artistic community that Stieglitz surrounded himself with. The group of artists that surrounded him feed off each other and I believe that anyone of them would not be as well known without the association of the others. What I am sure is more important is that there was the opportunity for an exchange of ideas that influenced their work in a positive way. Ansel Adams and Edward Weston had Group 64, and Hemmingway had the ex-patriot writers in Paris, there are many more examples of these types of supporting communities. Nothing is created in a vacuum.
25 years ago I was attracted to Crealde School of Art because I found an artistic community within the school that was giving and supportive of this neophyte that imposed himself on them. It was very important in my development as a photographer to not only have available the Photography Faculty, but also those in all the medias studied at Crealde. I would often show my work to the Creamics Teachers to get their perspective. I owe them all a great deal.
Recently however, I learned that my artistic community is even more important than the role they played in my personal growth as an artist. During a recent trip I became very ill and was just able to make it home before spending about 3 weeks in the hospital. While I knew that a few would come by to see me as I recover, I was overwhelmed with the responce of many people at the school who brought me several hours of uplifting joy by coming to see me. While in the hospital I felt detached and unconnected with photography, art and in turn life and frankly it left a hole in my soul. The visits by my artist friends began the process to fill that hole. This is an example of an artistic community at its best and I am most grateful.