Why Are You Here? A Question in Pictures
"I met a woman in a rural area during our sixth or seventh day. She was just one of many people along the roadside where I was shooting photographs, but I remember her because of the question she had for me. Why are you here?
I’m still trying to answer that question. I challenge you to do the same.”
Every tourist takes pictures.
Whenever we see new sights, different people or intriguing landscapes, we pull out the camera and snap a photo.
Upon returning home, we ask ourselves, “Now why did I take twenty pictures of that tree?” We realize, in the midst of adventure, we got carried away. The best ones go in the photo album or scrapbook.
For Jim Van Gundy, some of his best shots went on display at ClearStory Gallery, a gallery located in Life Center Church in Spokane.
Jim travelled to Ethiopia with NCF in the fall of 2010. A professional advertising photographer by trade, Jim knew he’d naturally fall into the role of team photographer, but what he’d capture on film was as unknown to him as the country he was visiting.
The idea of traveling to Ethiopia was an adventurous one, and Jim personally defines adventure as, “the result of poor planning” that “promises the unexpected”. Jim wasn’t sure what the expectations were of him as a professional photographer on a Vision Trip with NCF. At first he felt some pressure, but decided to refocus the lens of his heart on the idea that this would be an opportunity to see how God wanted to use him and what God was going to do.
It seems that God provided some spectacular picture-perfect moments for Jim. Later, when approached by ClearStory to “look for threads” in his pictures for a possible gallery installation, Jim realized he had enough to construct an entire “blanket.”
The show is simply entitled: Why Are You Here?
Through compelling images and dimensional full-wall collage elements, Jim draws the viewer into the conversation and gently, but pointedly, asks the same. Why are we here? Why are they there? Why do we converge and share this world? What else do we share?
Jim doesn’t have the answers, but the questions lead on and the participants in the art end up feeling something like Jim did when he went to Ethiopia.
Jim opens this dialogue with a journal entry:
Saturday, November 6 late afternoon — We are finally somewhere over Africa and the little cards they gave us for customs ask for a reason for m visit to Ethiopia. I don’t have an anwer. And if I did, it wouldn’t fit into one of these boxes I could check.
The answers aren’t always tidy, or multiple choice or true or false. When dealing with poverty and culture and people, things get messy and multi-layered, and new questions rise to the surface and demand attention.
And that’s what this show does. It raises questions and leaves space for the answers.
It does what good art, and valuable people and big problems do: Posits the question and waits… for you to respond, to act and to interact.
Why Are You Here? will be on display for a little while longer at ClearStory Gallery. Part of Jim’s collage-style photo display will be available to see at The Service Station, in north Spokane. The Service Station supports NCF by exclusively serving Dominion Trading Coffee.
Interested in knowing more about NCF? [click here]