Today, in my 4th hour photography class we finished watching the documentary, “What Remains,” about the life and work of photographer Sally Mann. I’m proud to say that the kids were blown away. I’m glad. I was afraid they wouldn’t get her – but then again, what’s not to get? Her work has a complexity to it, but their seemingly deep understanding of her motives and the outcome produced proved an old theory of mine, which is, if you give art more than 10 seconds, and just let it happen, you’ll get it.
Sally Mann is what I call an “everyday genius.” I’ve blogged about her before, because I LOVE her. She is impressive and unassuming all at the same time. Though she entirely human - approachable and down to earth, she is also stunning profound. What she swears is just a series of discoveries, seems at closer examination to be a clear, concise exploration of the way we live a life. She carries an intense wisdom about her craft, packed alongside all the doubt that plagues everyone else. Without pretense, she carefully dissects her thoughts and intentions. It’s like watching a surgeon work. There is a precision and a delicate touch. Monumental things happen with the flick of her hand. It’s both profound and familiar. Watching her work is beautiful.
When I stand back and look at her work at large, I can see that she is one of those artists whose career has a forward momentum to it - a perpetual motion toward the future. She moves on. She proceeds to what’s next. No matter what happens, she just works.
I have a great deal of respect for Mrs. Mann, and hope very much that someday our paths will cross.