I am finally in dry clothing and waiting for my kettle to sound off so I can prepare my cup of relaxing tea, yet I am still in amazement as to what I just watched. In thanks to the Brooks Museum of Art, I was introduced to a woman that was an amazing photographer - Vivian Maier.
I first learned about Vivian Maier this morning, as I perused the Brooks' website for their events listings. When I saw that they would be showing the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, I knew I had to go, simply because I knew nothing of her and her work yet something about her interested me greatly. I began searching for her work on the Internet and was surprised that I recognized many of her photos . After speaking with a friend, award winning photographer David Lee Black, about the documentary, he informed me that he had seen an exhibition of hers and that it was quite amazing. So, I knew then that I had to watch the documentary.
Unfortunately, as I drove to the Brooks, it had begun to rain and I found myself wondering if perhaps I needed to just stay at home. Yet, the call to become more acquainted with Maier's work compelled me to continue driving through the torrential rain that seemed to get worse as I finally pulled into the parking lot behind the art museum. Testing my resolve, I opened my car door, opened my umbrella then with me screaming, "This is for ART, dammit!," I raced through the downpour and made it safely inside, complete with soaking jeans, hair, shirt, sneakers and socks. How marvelous.
Vivian Maier was a recluse and barely told anyone about her life, yet thanks to a coincidental auction purchase made by director John Maloof, the world now knows of her photography and the woman who stored over 100,000 exposures plus many hundreds to thousands of undeveloped rolls of film. Her photographs were beyond just random shots; each one told a story, a history that, once caught and frozen by Maier, became immortal. As the documentary showed her photos and her home movies of the children she supervised as a nanny, there were also interviews of the children now grown up and their parents telling their tales about Ms. Maier. When I learned that she was born on February 1st, I grinned in the dark; that is my birthday and in my own way, made me feel closer to Maier.
Maier collected newspapers and was a pack rat. She requested having a padlock on her bedroom door with every home she lived in. She spoke with a slight French accent that while some claimed to be the real thing, others vehemently stated that it was quite fake. She wore big floppy felt hats and over sized coats to hide herself from the world, yet at the same time she revealed her inner self through her camera. She also had a dark side, one that came out in the form of abusing some of the children she took care of, or having an unnatural fear of men. In the end, she died alone and no one knew about it.
I am so glad that James Maloof purchased those boxes of negatives; thanks to him, Vivian Maier will never die.