This is not only a story of hidden talents, but also one of vision. It is about Vivian Maier: A nanny, a native New Yorker, a photographer, an inspiration. Miss Maier’s work was unknown until 2007 when a trunk of her negatives sold at auction for around $300, sparking worldwide recognition and an upcoming documentary.
As with many past artists, creative genius often goes undiscovered or overlooked during their lives. It’s not until after they’re gone that society truly embraces the magnitude of their work. It’s tragic yet touching, and though this is true in the case of Vivian Maier, the discovery of her brilliant photography has given her a new life; one of passion and insight, far from the woman who never shared her gifts with her closest friends or even the families whose children where in her care.
Maier lived from February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009, amassing a body of work comprised of over one hundred thousand negatives. Perhaps she kept her passion a secret for fear of losing her job. Perhaps it was the one thing she could call her own, a respite from her daily routine of care taking. Her story begs the question, “Do we have the likes of Vivian Maier peppered throughout our community?” Is the next Picasso or Maria Callas a stranger on a crowded subway platform or even pushing a stroller through Park Slope to make an honest living?
NYC is, of course, bulging at the seams with aspiring talent from visual and performing arts to other fields far and wide. Each day dedicated dreamers hone their skills and courageously wear their hearts on their sleeves in hopes of recognition and success. I know. I’m one of them. And though many of our dreams may never be fully realized in this lifetime or any other, we know no other love than the pursuit of our passion.
Jonny’s Final Thoughts: I’m not asking you to peer into the lives of each person you pass. I’m asking you to change your inner monologue. It’s simple and closed-minded to judge people based on a passing glance or a prejudice you’ve held onto for far too long. We all have greatness that may never be discovered but it’s real and alive regardless. Allow yourself to be defined by the sum of your many wonderful attributes rather than a title, a preference, or belief. Treat those you pass with the respect you wish to receive. You never know, you may just be in the presence of a creative genius!