The Richmond Art Collective was hosting an artist studio open house event on a cold winter night in Spokane. This young woman and two of her friends walked into my studio and asked me if there was only visual artist allowed in our studios and I said "absolutely not! All art mediums are supported here. We just don't happen to have any poets in residence right now." She then asked if it would be all right for her to do a spoken poem performance in the hallway of our studios where people were gathered around a potluck table. I said "sure... go for it!" In an instant the building was electric with energy and passion as she recited a poem about Black Lives Matter. The passion and energy of her words absolutely gripped me. As soon as she was done, I immediately handed her my business card and asked her to come back next week with her friends for a photo shoot. I assured her that my interest was purely to support her cause. Bethany is only 22 and already has her MBA degree from Eastern Washington University. AJ the Wordsmith has overcome so many barriers and has traveled the world writing and performing his own poetry. Marie is a college student from Detroit. Power 2 The Poetry is a local arts group that is seeking to give voice and empowerment to marginalized people. They are working on creating an incredible after school poetry program at three local high schools next year.
This photo shoot was intense and wonderful. I had to earn their trust through collaboration. I made this composite image and presented a poster size print at their open mic event in March. The fire they lit in the room that night has continued to burn in me as well as I attempt to make work that celebrates the enduring human spirit.