"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

a guggie i did not get

Last summer I began the process of applying for a Guggenheim Fellowship. I had decided in the spring to take on this endeavor, and I spent a great deal of time thinking about the proposal I would submit.

In the end - and over the course of several weeks - I wrote three separate proposals. The Guggenheim folks basically want to know how you might spend a year (and $30,000 to $40,000) completing a project you would not otherwise have the time and/or resources to put into motion. It's an amount that is supposed to free you from the chains of having to "work" during the year - designed to allow the you to devote your creative efforts to a project of your own choosing for a duration of approximately one year. Think Robert Frank and "The Americans."

I finally settled on proposal #3, spent a lot of time writing and assembling other support information, made a set of twenty very carefully edited photographs and convinced four esteemed people to write letters of recommendation for me. When I sent everything in the day before the deadline, I was glad to be finished, but I was also really happy that I had subjected myself to the process. While it was somewhat grueling, it proved to be a thought provoking period, full of introspection and self evaluation  - one that forced me to consider more fully than ever the choices I have made living a photographer's life.

The process of applying for a Guggenheim Fellowship is shrouded in secrecy. There are few hints to be found anywhere in books or online. There is no "how to" manual. I ended up making several calls to past "Guggie" recipients so I could find out what their secrets to success were. I finally realized that it was a total crap shoot for me; I didn't really expect to get it (but, of course, I was secretly hoping I would).

I got the rejection letter today.

It was the same day my grandson Henry got to come home from the hospital after a pretty severe and scary illness. Because of that timing, I was able to put it all into a proper and healthy perspective and realize that everything is relative. The joy and sheer relief I felt that grandson Henry was well enough to come home and that he will be fine was so much bigger than anything I felt about the Guggenheim. I ended this day feeling truly blessed, not sad or depressed.


Jessica said...

So happy to hear that Henry is home! We will continue to pray for him and send healing thoughts. Relieved.

Anonymous said...

we are so sorry about the sickness of your darling,adorable grand son Henry. we are keeping you and your family in our prayers.
Joan Faith

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the Guggenheim but glad to hear that Henry is OK -- it's so scary when kids are really sick.

Anonymous said...

That's one thing I love about you, Gloria. You always have your priorities straight.