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kate gazaway  Photographer. Vagabond. Baker on most days. Founder & educator @PictureChange. Based in Nashville,TN but I get around.

Feeding our bellies. Feeding the fire. Feeding our souls.

It’s taken a while to find the words to express my awe & gratitude over the premiere of “Stories From the Source,” our @picturechange student gallery, & even now these scattered sentences won’t cut it.

Earlier this year someone asked me, “Where do you see Picture Change in five years? Don’t give me a list. You have one snapshot. Describe it to me.” I closed my eyes & launched myself into the future. I saw my photography students from all over the globe standing outside the United Nations in New York City. They were gathered for a group photo with many world leaders, for the students had just unveiled a gallery exhibition of their photography. They were able to present, with their own images & words, stories of their lives & communities to the influential people who had power to make a difference.
I said all this & burst into tears, because I knew this dream could come true.
Last week we premiered “Stories From the Source,” an exhibition of Picture Change student photography from 5 different countries. “If only the students could be here to see this!” resounded over & over in my head as I stood on the stairs and watched the people of Nashville filter in and out of the gallery. The images came to life and transported the viewers, allowing them to walk around in someone else’s world for a while.
Most of my students have overcome staggering odds just to survive under incredibly difficult circumstances. Now, many are professional photographers earning a living to support themselves & their families.

I’m humbled to be a part of this & to share my students’ work as they use their voice to make an impact. I’m thrilled for what is to come, that “Stories From the Source” will be displayed in other cities & this incredible, intimate, beautiful work will continue to speak to audiences in other cities and, eventually, to world leaders at the United Nations and beyond.

Thanks to those who made this experience a reality by just showing up. Thank you for donating funds to make this possible, equipment to share this photography, and the time to make it all come together.

There’s so much more to come of this work. Thank you for being part of the journey.

If you’re anything like me, there are many different versions of yourself that you show people depending on your surroundings. Sometimes those compartmentalized worlds mix and those colors you’ve painted yourself as take a different hue.

This @picturechange gallery on Nov. 8, “Stories From the Source”, is huge for me personally because it’s the first time I’ve shared my ‘Away’ with my ‘Home’, my wings with my roots, my passion with my foundation in the community I’ve found here in Nashville.

For the past 7years, I’ve taught photography to dozens of students in 5 countries. That’s showing up as a stranger & building community 8 different times. That’s making friends & relying on others who don’t speak my language to survive and succeed. That’s witnessing a spark of discovery in my students and passion to create change where they live. That’s seeing suffering. That’s seeing joy. That’s sharing meals with those who have nothing and sharing a little bit of myself with everyone in between.

Earlier this year, I was talking with @shinabarger of @plywoodpeople & he said, “Kate, I’ve known you for 5 years and I never knew you did ALL this. Sharing on Instagram doesn’t cut it. You need to have a tangible celebration with your community and bring them into the work you’re doing.”
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I’m both thrilled & scared to share my world-wild heart in the place I call home. I’m honored to represent the work of my students who overcome incredible odds to bring this work to you.
Our vision grows when we are vulnerable with each other. Our love grows deeper when we let others in. Our understanding broadens when we practice empathy & experience kindness from those we fear.
This show, Stories From the Source, features 60 photos from my students. Theyre all of these things, beautiful, vulnerable, profound and full of the deep understanding which only a local’s perspective can provide. Some photos act as a door while others act as a mirror, allowing us to enter into a new space or to see ourselves a little differently.

If you are in Nashville, I hope you can make it on Thursday (6-8p. 901Woodland St). I’m honored to share this work, these worlds, and myself with you.

Calm and quiet, dodging sludge puddles and rogue umbrellas, feet wrapped in plastic grocery bags because you discovered your boots aren’t waterproof while walking to the subway. I stood under a shimmering magnolia tree to enjoy the steady rush of rain and staccato chaos of the street. My umbrella trembled with the embarrassment of having her skirt blown up and my soggy shoes croaked with joy all the way down the street and into the art museum. Washed in it all are the combination of the rain and the city, pure magic, inconvenient and sacred all the same.

I woke up before sunrise to walk the city. The shifting morning light brought crescendo and fade of languages and the mingled smell of cooking food, block by block, traveling from thousands of miles away all before I reached the Empire State Building. And I sank into the bliss of feeling so far from home while knowing exactly where I was. And I thought of what “Home” might mean to the billions of others sharing it with me and came before me and will come after me and realized, with throbbing feet and pounding heart, that I would much prefer to build longer tables rather than higher walls.

I dropped a couple crinkled dollars into his beat up canvas bag and we locked eyes. He was singing and we both smiled and I felt the city fall a little bit in love with me, or maybe it was the other way around. There was a sweet couple dancing with both the stiff yet fluid movement that comes with age and nostalgia. That moment was theirs, as it had been for many years past. But when he smiled at me, that glimmer of time was mine. He gave it to me with his music, with his very presence in the music. I never even asked for his name.

My two little eyes aren’t sufficient to take this city in. Time to head home.

I’ve stood on roaring ocean shores and mountains which caress the sunset and felt like the only beating heart for miles around. Then there are times, like here in New York City, where I’m walking amongst millions of beating hearts and sky-scraping giants.
And both here and there, I get the same feeling of insignificant smallness yet profound depth and prolific connection to everything around me.
And I’m amazed that one beating heart can hold so much of the world with all of its everything. And when I think of the billions of hearts with all of their everythings, I’m silenced in the city and I shout from the top of the mountain under the ebb and flow of it all. Wowed. Transfigured. Astounded that I get to be here and there and everywhere I am.
Anyway, time to go breathe stale air with strangers and zoom around in a metal tube under the ground. See ya somewhere.

Hello again, you gorgeous gal. Glad to be back.

More edge of earth and sky, more howling wind tugging tears out of my eyes, more exploring new places and more digging deeper into my roots.
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📸 by Mom Gazaway

I came here for oysters but all I ended up having was a good time (and a chance to reconnect with family I’ve only seen a few times in my life (and oysters)).

May all your escapes be as welcome and as lovely and may your leaving better define “home” when and if you return.

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