do you remember a time when you did something simply for the love of doing it? not because someone told to. or because it was an assignment. not for cheers or accolades from friends or teachers or bosses. but just because it made you truly happy.
for many of us, these times are few and far between.
i recently heard an amazing story about a photographer named vivian maeir. she lived her life quietly, unassumingly, working as a nanny for various north shore chicago families over the past 40 years. that was pretty much all anyone knew of her. she was fiercely private, kept to herself, with the only hint of personality being that she was once described as a “mary poppins-like” figure by children who she cared for
but she left behind an amazing trove of treasures that are setting the art world on fire. discovered in an abandoned storage unit were boxes containing thousands of images—more than 100,000 to be exact—prints, negatives and even undeveloped rolls of film containing images of street scenes she captured during her lifetime.
mostly black and white, her photos are beautiful, poignant moments in time, many touching, sometimes humorous, and they bring to life the 50s in Chicago with photojournalistic vibrancy and artistic vision …
but she rarely shared a glimpse with anyone….and then she passed away.
some might say it’s tragic that she had such talent, such amazing perspective, but it didn’t get discovered until after her death. but would she really have wanted her work to be scrutinized, fawned over, critiqued by the masses?
now that she’s gone, we’ll never know…but i’d offer a different perspective. perhaps she just did it, purely, for herself. because there was something inside that she wanted to express. because it was something she was passionate about—that was all her own. without judgment. without criticism. without worrying about what people thought.
if there’s something that you love, that excites you, that you’ve always wanted to try, that simply makes you happy—carve out a space for it. guard it. protect it. nurture it. because if everyone sees it or no one does, it will always be yours.
An exhibition of Vivian Maier’s work, “Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer,” is on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, through April 3, 2011.