Bridging Art and Life: Insights from my School of Visual Arts Lecture

Collaborator: School of Visual Arts | Role: Guest Speaker | Location: New York


I recently had the honor of being invited as a guest speaker at the School of Visual Arts for their i3: Ideas, Images, Inspiration lecture series, curated by Julie Grahame. To be a little candid for a second, I was thrilled when I received the invitation—a mix of surprise, joy, and anxiety swept over me. Sharing one’s journey with an enthusiastic audience is a rare opportunity, especially in a creative and innovative institution such as SVA.

My journey as a creative is akin to a stylish patchwork jacket sewn together from various fabrics—art, culture journalism, and creative direction. Yeah, this proverbial jacket keeps me warm, but it also keeps me pretty damn fresh too! I’m kidding, but my love for all things creative runs deep. And I think we should nerd out about it over hot beverages sometime if this sentiment aligns with your lifestyle. Your treat.

Moving on, shall we?

In the lecture, I share one of the pivotal moments in my career: the day I bought an intervalometer to capture time-lapse photography from a rooftop in the neighborhood I grew up in, South Jamaica, Queens. QGTM. While this experiment began with a simple curiosity to capture time in an unusual way, it led me on a path of exploration and discovery. It showed me how important it is to be open to trying new things, even if they initially seem daunting.

Then, at some point in the lecture, I started talking about my archival project, “New York Said,” born from the ashes of a failed photobook attempt. To say NYS became a beacon that guided my career is overkill, but I will say that New York Said became this playground for me to play in, unsupervised.

Why do I find it essential to have the luxury of playing on your own, unsupervised? As a creative professional, you are constantly supervised through Zoom calls, emails, updates, completed project reflections, key performance indicators, the effortlessness with which you can perform your specialized techniques, and the quality of your deliverables. But if you own an unsupervised creative playground, otherwise known as a personal/passion project. In that case, you can fall, fail, scrape your knee, break your clavicle, jump over a nearby gate from a chain swing, light fireworks, yell, scream, destroy, and create anything you see fit. You can do whatever you want; you are the boss of your ideas and creative experiences. You can make things just because you want to see them born. For me, it was the ability to get into rooms and learn from other creatives who would have ignored me had I not owned my playground.

Through “New York Said,” I experimented with different mediums, from photography to podcasting, each step opening new doors and teaching me valuable lessons. I learned the power of play and how it can lead to unexpected opportunities. Companies began to hire me not just for the skills I could list on a resume but for the creativity and innovation I demonstrated through my passion projects.

My work also led me into classrooms as a learner and teacher. These projects allowed me to share my knowledge and experiences with students and learn from them. This exchange of ideas and perspectives keeps the creative process vibrant and alive.

Throughout this journey, I’ve learned that being a creative professional is more than producing work. It’s about telling stories that matter, engaging with communities, and continuously evolving personally and professionally. My presentation at the School of Visual Arts was an opportunity to reflect on this journey, to share the highs and lows, and to inspire others to embrace their passions and curiosities.

In the above SVA lecture, I talk about all kinds of other stuff, not just New York Said, and kicking it with students. Truthfully, I don’t have the time or the mental fortitude to fully summarize a 45-minute presentation that took me six months to create. If you really, really, really want to know, family, I implore you to grab your favorite snack and just watch the video.

But before I get out of here, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Julie Grahame for the invitation, the Masters of Photography team at the School of Visual Arts, and everyone who has supported me along the way.

Thanks for walking with me.


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