Thursday, December 12, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

In the Navajo culture potters, weavers and artisans purposely leave slight imperfections in their work.

There is a magical idea that the Indian thinks is more important. Every enclosed blanket must have an outlet -- that is an outlet for the creative idea, a part of the mind which the weaver has put into it. The Navajo word for it is shih nih bi-teen' meaning "Mind my road." It is usually a mere thread of a different color, or a slight, apparently accidental, which looks like an imperfection. ~ from navajopeople.org

Isn't that great? A society that encourages it's people to embrace a mistake, in fact it was required. Later in the explanation of artistic imperfection the Navajo site says the flaw was needed to keep the artist from going crazy, like the quest for perfection is almost too much to bear.



As a photographer, I've spent a lot of time learning the rules of composition and contemplating the best way to communicate my idea, but then, in the moment when I push the shutter button, there becomes a moment of chance. Sometimes I achieve perfect focus...sometimes I don't. Sometimes a bird flies into the frame or a person closes their eyes. I've learned that for me, those imperfections enhance my personal style. Yes, I could choose to photograph people in a studio with perfect lighting, but I don't. I would rather photograph a person on the beach with the flaws of wind-blown hair and splashing waves. There is a carefree, human aspect to my art and I like that.



What would our world, our community, be like if we encouraged people to embrace their perceived flaws as a sign of perfect creation? I think we all might feel a tremendous sense of liberation and joy that only embracing our uniqueness can bring.