Raised in a tract house in Southern California surrounded by disappearing orange trees, I retreated from my decidedly ordinary life through photographs. Looking at those images taught me to let my thoughts follow their impulses. Looking at them raised questions that forced me to appreciate the beauty of the ordinary reality I was running away from.
I was reminded of how inspiring books of photographs can be during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years ago. I literally stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the picture of a woman's back on the cover of a book called The Waking Dream. The photograph was taken in 1862, yet at that moment, the distance between the past and present collapsed. In an effort to figure out the secret of who this woman was and what she was looking at, I began to feel I knew her. It was as if she were trying to teach me about the power of seeing rather than being seen.
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From the April 2001 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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