*Sometimes stories about how your art touches another are just too wonderful not to share. The following piece was summited by Rebecca Helms, a photographer from North Carolina. Thank you Rebecca! – Sarah Angst*
Hello, I am a photographer from North Carolina. I have spent the last 5 years working in Montana and North Carolina, six months at a time. During my months in Montana, I worked for Loneman Photography in Bozeman, photographing families and weddings. Owners Doug & Stana are art enthusiasts (as you would imagine) and during my first year working with them, they took me to the Emerson and other galleries during my off hours so I could get a feel for the culture of Bozeman and see some of Montana’s talented artists.
TART at the Emerson became one of my favorite places in Bozeman. I was fresh out of photography school – so suffice it to say, I had a very tight budget. When I first saw your piece called “Solitude”, it made my heart skip a beat and put hopeful tears of recognition in my eyes. I had never responded to anyone’s art so immediately. Instead of buying an original, I excitedly “settled” for 2 cards to frame… One for myself and one for my sister back home. We always bring each other a gift when we travel.
“Solitude” symbolically represented both of our vastly different paths in life, me an artist and my sister a first responder. Both are paths that can be very fulfilling but, require a level of independence and stubborn determination to survive.
My family was raised in the south. It is a wonderful place filled with the aromas of peaches and pecans, porch swings filled with company and laughter, warm breezes, and rib breaking genuine hugs. However… it can still be a pressure filled place to marry and settle down.
When my Montana experience first began, I received lots of questions – steeped in loving concern and curiosity about why I was venturing off to Montana, alone, when I had no prior connections there. I was asked, “Why can’t you find a job here or just open up your own photography studio immediately and get down to business?” (I had gone through a similar scenario when I decided I was going back to photo school as soon as I finished my bachelors in environmental science.)
I pressed forward, regardless of the questions.
I couldn’t seem to explain that I was being drawn to Montana (I had been, since I was 14 years old!). I couldn’t explain this need to see the world – starting in Montana. This was going to be a dream fulfilled for me, a girl whose family had only traveled as far as Tennessee.
So I hugged my family goodbye, boarded my plane (first time flying alone!), to find myself a few hours later stepping off in Bozeman, Montana. I fell in love with it immediately. The people and town were wonderful and I got to travel much of the state with Doug & Stana while I worked. It was one of the best times of my life. Each year, for the next four years, I would buy a couple of your art cards to represented my time in Montana, and frame them to hang on my walls at home.
Living the nomadic lifestyle was wonderful, but not financially sustainable for the long term. So I have come home to North Carolina to regroup, and I am sketching out a sensible plan that will help me accomplish the things that are important to me in life. It has not been easy, mentally. I miss Montana a lot. I haven’t found contentment in either place, but I am lucky to have tremendous friends and family who support me in both places and I am so grateful for them all.
Looking at your art on my walls reminds me of the places and people of Montana that I know and love while I am working on my next set of goals. It has been a year of interviews for new opportunities and dealing with the struggles of owning my own business. Your art adds a small piece of happiness to my day when I walk through my home.
I wanted to share what I have done with your art, and say “Thank You.” I haven’t gotten to frame my cards from my final year out West – the Mountain Goat (one was on the trail with me in Glacier last October) or the Fly Fisherman (my neighbor & surrogate grandfather taught me how to fly fish last year) – yet – but they will be added to the wall collection. Each piece takes me mentally to a person and place in Montana that holds a special memory and place in my heart. They are ties to the past and hopes for the future.
Thank you for sharing your art – which means, sharing a piece of your heart.
*Blog Post Written by Rebecca Helms – www.beccahelms.blogspot.com