Johnnie L. Smith
I was not aware of my artistic talents until my sophomore year of high school. Neither drawing or taking pictures was a hobby of mine. However, one day, while sitting around with nothing to do, I picked up a camera that belonged to my uncle and began fooling around with it. I learned that it was outdated and not in very good shape. Though with my interest peeked, I bought one of my own. No one was interested in being my subject so I took pictures of my Great Uncle Bob, a former high school teacher and administrator, with a PhD in Education, now saddled with Alzheimer’s. Hidden away within the darkness of this disease, I took advantage of a situation that just happened to fall into my lap. He talked and moved around a lot due to the disease, so at first getting my angles the way I wanted proved difficult. However, after awhile he seemed to enjoy it, or so I convinced myself into believing this to be true. In any event, he relaxed and became my first
I tried to capture what was left of my Uncle Bob through the eyes of the camera. It was an attempt to show him as a story, a lost soul, a shell of what used to be, the past and present merged into one. Before my mom began to care for Uncle Bob he slowly fell in to the darkness of this disease all alone; driving down the wrong side of the road, eating at the same restaurant, leaving then coming back, never remembering. Here was a man who had achieved so much, whose mind now betrayed his own identity.
Staring at his face, my goal was to capture the highlights of the crinkles and lines deeply embedded in his facial skin. My photographs inspired my paintings. His eyes emerged as my point of reference, ultimately becoming a point of interest for my audience. My body of work represents a part of my life, past, present, and future. Though trying to express them though words, has become a great challenge. They are just not as forthcoming as their visual counterparts.
With many pieces under my belt, I am now internally motivated to give the best of that which I am capable of as an artist. As I continue to grow as an artist, that unknown part of me yet to be born, will emerge. My future awaits me. I now feel, without a doubt, that I can move forward with confidence and greatness into the artist living within me.