Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Helping one person heals the world. | Calling all photogs.

two things before i begin:
1.) please read all of this. a few paragraphs in and it'll read itself. i promise.
2.) i suck at commas. i know... and i've come to embrace it. ;)

well. get out your boxes of Kleenex because this is just one of those posts that i've a feeling will pull at your heart strings.

my mother arrived home yesterday evening w/ a story that left me aching inside, and after a lot of back and forth within myself about what i could possibly do to help with what some might call a hopeless situation, i had an idea.

*enter this blog post. enter art. enter you & me.

now, before i get to that i want to share something i fundamentally believe in:
art (any medium/from the heart) has the ability to shift one's thinking & change us at our core. it comes from the core of us, which is a powerful place. art is beautiful for this reason (and for many others) - because it makes us question our lives and our ideals & can awaken (or re-awaken) us, reminding us of what is important and perhaps save us from what is not. at the end of the day, it can transform. we are in an industry that more often than not already knows this. still, it's good to be reminded.

over the years i have received letters from people all over the globe who have shared their own stories of personal hardship with me (a total stranger) - expressing to me that my artwork (in their case) had stirred something in them. i became an artist simply because creating had that effect on me, but it's through these emails and over the years, that i've grown to understand how the power of our own messages (our vision) can affect the lives of others; of strangers.

so, kleenex boxes. grab them.

alright, here it is:
my mother got home yesterday and updated me on a story about a family friend that has a terminal condition and who is (as of last night) suffering, greatly. she has been very sick for some time, but in my mother's recent visit, it became apparent how much more dire the situation has become.

to respect this woman's privacy, i will omit her name, but i want to share with you a very short part of her life, in hopes that you might help me w/ something i've never done before, with artwork.

this woman is just shy of her 50th birthday, with a disease that is congenital and very rare in adults.

she has had 18 surgeries, is on dialysis every 3 days, deals weekly with blood transfusions, lab testing, terrible chronic pain, is on a slew of debilitating meds (in themselves) and because of these disorders (and so many i just cannot begin to cover) is confined to her home - a city apartment where she must stay to continue receiving care in the way that she needs, just to live.

but, here's the kicker that i just cannot get past: she's alone. she doesn't really have anyone.

now, obviously when i heard this story (with my bleeeeeding heart) i wanted to bend the sky and stars and barter w/ nature about what could be done, and i don't know... just HELP HER in some small way with so little idea as to how. i can't take away this woman's illness. perhaps at this point, noone can. that's not my area of expertise, though, and i'm going to choose to believe otherwise.

but, in thinking on it tonight (a lot), I am also pretty sure i'm not totally helpless in doing something.

well, what can an artist do? what could i possibly do for this woman (even for a day or two hours) to liven her spirits (which at this point are incredibly low/too low/unbearably low) ?

she loves ART. i happen to know she loves it.
and the thing about art is that it's got a beautiful momentum, and ... it heals.

i'm going to surprise her with one of my prints. i'm going to choose my favorite print of them all - something from my heart & and bring it to her. it's that simple.

here's why i'm sharing this story with all of you:
i was thinking for those who were as moved as i was/am by this story, that you might want to add to that folder i am bringing her, with one of your own prints. i think in cases like this, it's the thought that counts more than anything, and i don't think it matters the size or the subject matter, or the paper (or bla bla bla) but just...that there is something from the heart intended as a gift to this woman.

if you'd like to help me in just bringing this person, who is very much struggling, a little bit of beauty - please drop me a note on facebook or email me at: and i will get you an address to send a print of your own to add to that gift. there is quite a message in numbers, as well as through our vision, and i am calling my network to add to that (very personal & poignant) message. that's what i'd like to do for her. for now, that's all i can do for her.

it's my hope that i can go to her house before i leave for europe (mid july) w/ a folder of beautiful prints of all sorts of different stories, ideas, signatures, etc... - from all over the globe and say: "these people just wanted you to have these."

and i just know (regardless of circumstance) she'd smile; that for at least a short time her thoughts wouldn't be about being ill, or feeling pain or fear (she is), or about how she is going to get through even one more day, but maybe just maybe she'd get to feel special and the energy boost of a lifetime.

and, i have a feeling, with as much energy as being terminally ill takes out of anyone, that this might just be what she needs. if nothing else, it's worth a damn try. remember why you picked up a camera? remember when it pulled you in and you fell in love with art? do you remember the reasons why you began to do what you do? don't forget the importance in all of it.

so, why help a stranger - someone you've never met?
...well, why not?

and, because maybe one day you might find yourself in a similar boat and wish you had something to boost your spirits. maybe one day this will be your mother or sister or wife or maybe as you read this, you realize it already is and it'll really speak to you. but honestly, even if you are never touched by anything in your life that is this trying or seemingly hopeless (i hope you never are) you now know of one person who is.

at this moment, she's alone. and, she feels it.
she does not know i'm posting this.

***quick notes: things to bear in mind: her place is very small, so perhaps little pieces might even be better. perhaps something she could put near her in a journal or folder, to be on hand at any moment.

additionally, we aren't all artists with gallery representation, agents, or 1000000000000 dollar cameras. it doesn't matter if this is some fine art piece. do you have a snapshot that you love, that you took w/ a point & shoot? awesome.
this isn't about flashy this or that. if you want to contribute, contribute.
that's my two cents. are you an artist in your heart? good. that's enough times 10.

the message carries. the message always carries.

And, as for me, i am getting her a big one. i want her to have at least one piece she can jump inside of. so, i'll see to the big one if a 4x6 is what works best for you.

and, even if there are only 5 people in the wrrrrrld that choose to send something over, for a woman you will never meet, i know i am in absolutely incredible company. in contrast, think if there were a thousand. i'd weep.

email me.

ash x


ps. for those that made it this far, without a single photo, i adore you.


Samantha Nandez said...

I'm in!

Brooke Shaden said...

I will definitely be sending something :)

me said...


Captured by Brooke Photography said...

This is beautiful...would love to help! <3

Captured by Brooke Photography said...

This is beautiful...I would LOVE to help! <3

Inga said...

I'm definitely in!

Sara Patton said...

What does she have Ashley? Do you think it's possible getting her a healing with raw foods book could help her condition at all?

Róisín said...

I should have taken you up on your advice about having Kleenex on hand before reading on, I need them now! This is one of the most emotional blog posts I've ever read and I'd love to contribute in some small way. I'll be one of those ones just sending a couple of point-and-shoot photos though since I'm not to competent in the art department. As you said, though, it's about the message x

Franny said...

I'm in. Love the idea!!

Mademoiselle G said...

Such a great idea! I would love to send something too :-)

Donna~Q~ said...

Here via Roisin's blog and am glad to discover your gorgeous and inspiring photographs! Saw via FB that you have had a vast response to this post ~ YAY! Am heading over there to send along my info in case you have room for another pic or two...

Anonymous said...

Any update? How is she doing? I bet she was thrilled with her gifts!

hushaby said...

She was so absolutely moved, just to update. It was an amazing moment in a living room! I know it absolutely took her by surprise. From this post (above) to me writing this comment, so much *good* was done. | Thank you to the many, many who contributed from all over the world. I adore you all to pieces for it. - Ashley <3