A reader from Washington State, Esther Louie, wrote recently to tell about her process in creating this artwork for the 37days book art challenge, working with her son, Nick:
"I started out NOT normal, and I was sure everyone’s perception of the normal person was not me. Everything I saw around me did not include me. Growing up in Chinatown, San Francisco, is not normal by U.S. standards. I wasn’t even normal for the rest of Chinatown! Normal-ness never existed in my world–a Chinese American, second generation girl growing up in the middle of Chinatown, going to a Catholic missionary school and then attending an all girls’ French government high school where there were only four Chinese American girls in each grade level. Every time normal was defined, I doubt that I was included.
"I do believe that Patti has supernatural powers, and that with her divining powers, she was able to assign to us an essay that fits only us. And then it arrived–my essay assignment was Redefine Normal! I reread it quickly and breathed into the truth and power of her essay.
"The sentence–’Coerced conformity has costs’–reverberated throughout my being. I know about the costs. But then! ‘It reduces me and it reduces others,’ was like being at the outer end of Crack the Whip –a head-snap! A whack upside the head–it’s not only about me, but it’s also about the other, too. Can I see the other, can they see me?! This took me to another place and helped me to focus and re-focus, and in my case, put me in the center where I’ve never thought to be. The ability to reflect, to consider self and to consider the other; to see inside and outside, the internal view and the external view, new and fresh perspectives–it’s what our creative soul may hunger for to make sense of our daily lives and routine.
"Thus a photograph Nick (our son) took this past summer, floated into my mind. I loved that he and I could collaborate together on this project. He has the ability to be present and to enjoy exactly what he is doing at the moment, and he recorded these beautiful images of the local grain fields and clouds while taking the dog out for a run. The photo taken through the window of his pickup had the quality of inner and outer views of the clouds with the rear view mirror expressing another perspective. Which lens or image or perspective is the real one; which one is the normal one? And how do we Redefine Normal? I say, put yourself in the picture."