“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” ~ Max Ehrmann
Portrait Series Documenting the Journey of a Group of Silicon Valley Teens to Graduation in 2020 (and Beyond)
Part 1: “At 13, A Letter to My Future Self”
I have been planning for this photo series for many years and could not wait until the magic number “13”. I wanted to make portraits of my daughter and a group of her peers at the age of 13 and ask them each to write a letter to their future 18 year old self; their 2020 self. However, the project wouldn’t end there. Each participant has agreed to meet me again in 2020 for another portrait/letter session, and perhaps again in 2025.
I began this project last summer, during their 13th year and asked that they write their letter before turning 14. I have known most of these kids since their pre and elementary school days. And, while 7 middle schools, 9 towns, and a countless number of sports teams, music groups and art programs now separate them, they have all remained friends or have become acquaintances. The kids of the Silicon Valley all seem to know one another.
I’m thrilled to introduce this group of teens, each of whom I will have the privilege of documenting with photographs on their journey to 2020. After each child’s name I’ve included one word their parents were asked to use to describe them when they entered preschool. I look forward to watching them grow and witnessing the young adults they will become. Godspeed!
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to title this post, “pondering”, “parenthood” or “disenchantment”. As my daughter approaches her tenth year, I ponder how Bryan and I are measuring as her parents. I believe our successes greatly outweigh our failures and I believe we are doing a pretty darn good job at nurturing a decent human being. Parenthood, while not a piece of cake, has come to us gracefully, without a lot of drama. The child, as I have always said, brings more to our plate then we could ever dish out on to hers. This beautiful person is such a gift in my life and inspires me everyday to dig deeper into my art. Parents sometimes forget to continue to grow on their own journey as they raise the next generation. My daughter and my journey to 2020 becomes richer each day with knowledge, love, understanding and, sometimes, disappointment. Fortunately, the few moments of disenchantment when actions of unkindness or cruelty come along, I always have this small person to remind me that resilience is “rooted in a tenacity of spirit”. On her first day of preschool they asked us to describe our child in one word. We chose “empathetic”. Yep, we were right!
Photo taken of the sun setting over the Pacific during the Super Bowl ♥