My mother is at least twice as awesome as yours, and that is no lie. She has worked for the Boeing Company for over 30 years, has managed to raise my brother and I right, and still catches attention wherever she goes. She makes amazing things with her bare hands. She is my best friend, and we can talk about anything. She gave me my love of books, food, and music. Mom continually inspires me to be great.
My father is also at least twice as amazing as yours. He is infinitely understanding, patient, and loving. He instilled a love of the Seattle Mariners and Super Sonics in me at an early age. He has also probably explained football to me a dozen times (Sorry, Seahawks). He was also the one who taught me how to ride a bike, who took me to my first concert (Bob Dylan), and who made me watch every pivotal episode of Seinfeld. Dad inspires me to love, laugh, and be open.
My Grandfather was a great man. He served in the military, had a rich career at Boeing, and raised a strong family. When I was young, he was the one that made me read all the books my parents got me, who sat through episodes of NOVA with me, and who showed me how to properly manicure the perfect lawn to make the neighbors envious. Grampy inspires me to get out of bed every day and do things not just for myself, but for those I love, and do them well.
My Grandmother was a truly amazing woman. She cooked up feasts for every occasion, raised a family, made beautiful quilts with love, and planted gardens full of irises, azaleas, and poppies. She spoiled me more than anyone ever could, and taught me to appreciate the natural beauty of the world. She inspires me to draw from nature and incorporate an understanding of the world into my work.
I have had several teachers along the way who inspired me inside and outside the classroom. Tim Parker and Tim Renz taught me many things while I was a wee lad, but from Mr. Parker, I learned that you always have more to give. From Mr. Renz, I learned to find the humor and wonder in the creation that surrounds us to better understand it. Little nuggets from them have stuck with me since I met them.
In New Orleans I was blessed with a constellation of inspirational professors. Dr. Leslie Richardson brought to life everything from the Bhagavad Gita to Lysistrata, and introduced me to Laura Mulvey and Michel Foucault. Her constant smiles and insightful feedback made me a confident, competent writer. Dr. Janice Haynes inspired me to go to grad school to further my studies and understanding of communication, and her courses were the backbone of my education at Xavier. Patricia Bernstein was the first person to put a real camera in my hands and teach me what to do with it. She changed my life forever by giving me the tools to capture light, and introduced me to Red Burns, Marianne Petit, and Shawn Van Every who gave me a chance in New York.
Red teaches all first year students at ITP the importance of play. She teaches that we must never fully give up the child within us and to create playful things that anyone can understand and use. Marianne has a mastery and understanding of every kind of media production, and a critical eye that helped shape my creations at ITP, and the direction I would take there. Shawn was instrumental in teaching me how to make “real” projects at ITP that involved coding, and that programming need not be compared to alchemy. These three paved my way to ITP and shaped my path as I went. The combination of their professional awesomeness is inspirational in and of itself, as they are the best of the best in their fields.
Speaking of the best of the best, Eric Rosenthal from NYU is probably one of the most impressive and accomplished men I have been lucky to know. He has invented groundbreaking imaging systems, built cameras from scratch, and explained to me things are so complex that work but should not, such as the laser printer. He gave me the technical knowhow to really hone my skills as a photographer, and inspired me by his lengthy career as an inventor for Disney and DARPA. Don’t even get me started on how amazing the things Eric has made are, and how brilliant he is. What is most inspiring is that he teaches that teaching and giving back the knowledge you collect in your lifetime is of the utmost importance.
It is no lie that friends are the family you choose, and though I am a social morpho butterfly, my closest friends are worth their weight in gold, and they inspire me to do half the things I want to do just by nature of being a sounding board for my ideas. Chris Paul provides me with a fun house mirror of myself at all times, and forces me to constantly laugh at myself. Chris Hickson takes things a bit more seriously, and keeps me grounded at all times because he listens to everything. Emeri and I are peas in a pod because we wear our hearts on our sleeves, and the time we spend, the more I think that is a good thing. Madeline is uncompromising and inspires me to have a fire in my belly to be recognized and desired. Put simply, Elizabeth inspires me to be fabulous at all times.
You would be surprised by the things that you learn from the people who capture your heart from time to time. Roscoe and I met out of chance and I couldn’t have asked for a better first love, because I learned what it was to feel for another from him. Tyson taught me to grow a tougher skin and to speak my mind when I feel something. David taught me how to forgive and heal.