Remember that moment in To Kill a Mockingbird when Scout looks over and sees her mysterious neighbor in the light for the first time? "Hey, Boo," she says:
My brother sent me an email this week that started with "Hey, Boo" and it made me smile. Maybe that's why it's been on my mind. And why I'm taking a (perhaps too wide) leap from that to this:
Vivian Maier was a free-spirited and rather eccentric nanny in the mid 20th century who, in her free time, took her camera to the streets and captured urban life through her lens. She was intensely private and didn't share the photos but secretly stashed away all her negatives, along with other found items and knick knacks, in a series of storage lockers. Eventually she fell on hard times. Three of the children she had nannied, when they heard of her poverty, bought her an apartment and took good care of her. Unfortunately, the contents of the storage lockers had already been auctioned off due to delinquent payments by then and the photos were lost.
In 2007, her massive stash of negatives was discovered in a thrift store auction in Chicago and her work was championed by a man named John Maloof. Now there are books, and a website, and even a documentary in the works devoted to Vivian. These are a few favorite images but, really, they're all exquisite.
There's something so poignant to me about Vivian. She was a self-taught amateur and clearly had a serious gift and an amazing eye. She wasn't motivated by the sharing of her work but rather the act of the art itself. And yet, it would have been a tragedy to have lost all those images and glimpses of life through her lens. I can't get enough.
I feel like I've found a stash in the crook of a tree in Maycomb, Alabama.
I see you there.