I've asked almost all of my participants in the project what their hope for Selma is and have gotten many different responses. It's been an honor to be able to talk to so many people about their views of Selma. I've learned a lot about Selma since I started this project and learned a lot about myself, too. My hope for Selma is that it can come together and knit itself closer as each day passes by. We have a unique place in history and there is so much opportunity for us to come together, to know each other better and to be really interested in what each one of us is doing. I truly believe that the more we know about each other, the less our differences matter. The more we know about each other's stories, the more we can grow together. My mission is to learn as much as I can about each person that comes into my studio. To record their story and to preserve their presence in this world. Each story is important and each person's story is truly meaningful and treasured by me. I feel like I've become a keeper of stories and it has made me want to record as many as I can. I really never want to take portraits anywhere else.
The missionaries asked me what could they do for me before they left the studio and I asked for them to pray for my friend who was in the hospital. I had been to see her the night before and she was not doing very well. We've been friends since high school and she was one of the very first people to really be nice to me when I started a new school in ninth grade. She always protected me and "showed me the ropes" as those first days went by at a new school. We drifted apart and back together over the years, but always shared a love for each other that picked up right where it left off. I thought that if anyone needed prayers then, it was her.
In talking to our other friends from high school, we realized how much our friend protected us...how she always looked out for us and always made sure we were safe from the bullies. She loved life, she was fun to be around and was always so thoughtful and she remembered birthdays. She was interested in my life. She was like Mary Carl with Penny...always protecting those around her who needed it.
What I've learned is that we need to protect each other...we need to be interested in our neighbor's lives and in each other's lives. The more we work to get to know each other, the more we will end up caring about each other.
If we care enough about each other to learn our stories, the differences we have will seem so much more insignificant.