Big changes in life can cause an unexpected and often unrecognized stress on both our bodies and our minds. I finally realized this at the age of 32, in the middle of pursuing my Master’s degree in digital photography. Along with the pressures of this program, I was working at a full-time job and had just bought my first house, with all the attendant financial obligations. Though seemingly positive, all of these changes caused me to become depressed, and I withdrew into my own psychological world.
My photography allowed me to discover and express these feelings. As I observed my daily environment, I began to see—and to photograph—the beauty and emotional power of abstract forms, textures, and colors created by the continued use, abuse, and decay of its myriad surfaces. Isolated by my camera, fragments of walls, fabrics, walkways, and signage became my vocabulary, letting me capture my feelings of anxiety, fear, isolation, and even anger.
Some of the surfaces, or the parts of them I chose to show, contained subdued colors and dense, even textures; others had bright hues and were scratched, ripped, and spattered. These qualities seemed like the visual analog to what I was going through mentally and physically. In they end, the images can probably be appreciated on a nonobjective level, much the way one would look at abstract expressionist or field and gestural paintings. But behind their seductive surfaces is the story of how I was undermined by life’s burdens, then discovered that art offers a way to cope with them.