We sometimes forget what art really is and what it can do for us.  Recently, much has been written about the photographer Vivian Maier, including a documentary. Still her legacy remain enigmatic. The meaning of her art a mystery. The unique story of her life often eclipsing her accomplishments. 

Maier worked her entire life as a nanny in NYC and Chicago in the 1940’s and 50’s. She lived a very private life. Few knew she spent all her spare time wandering city streets with her Rolleiflex taking thousands of rolls of film. Lacking the funds and access to a darkroom, much of her work remained in a locker room only discovered after her death. Boxes of her work were purchased in a blind auction by John Maloof in 2007. Discovering the quality, he has made it a personal effort to exhibit and promote Maier.

You can draw many thoughts about her work. Some think it best captures ordinary life, sometimes at the cost of the drama of the street. Others point to the richness of her composition and keen detail eye. Interestingly, a notable portion of the 150,000 negatives she took were self portraits. Ones that injected her image into the normal street life she saw. The question remains, what does the body of her work attempt to convey, what did it mean to her?

Arthur Lubow in his NYT article “How groundbreaking is Vivian Maier’s Photograph” attempts to tackle what her legacy means. Lubow feels that her work, especially the self portraits, was a journey of self discovery. The camera the passport to that understanding. 

Perhaps this is one of the most overlooked aspects to art. How it can help us see how we fit into the world. There are reasons to wander with your camera. You never know what you may discover, even yourself...

Post Photo "Cafe" by David Young (an ode to Vivian Maier)