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Monday, May 20, 2013

Fiona Gardner

"One of the most important things about childhood is imagination.  All artists, on some level, are adults who still have access to their imagination, who have figured out a way to carry that into being an adult."

Fiona Gardner
American Photographer / Artist

Potential creative projects are all around us.  It takes imagination to find them.  Fiona Gardner found hers at Ellen's Stardust Diner in New York in form of Miss Subways.  She spent several years of her life working on the project with Amy Zimmer.  

We all have ideas, but most of us never act upon those ideas, and if we act upon an idea, we often don't finish the project.  I have started two novels that I have never finished.  I began a haiku notecard business using my haiku with artwork that never made a sale.  I still have cards sitting on a shelf in a closet.  I had an idea for a sports newspaper that focused only on local sports like Little League, softball teams, etc.  I never even got to first base.  I struck out before I got started.  I once had the idea for a book about the history of Illinois High School Tournament basketball.  I wrote to the state high school basketball association proposing that they fund my writing of the book but received no answer.  A year later they published their own history using a retired sports writer.  They stole my idea and didn't even acknowledge the theft.

But there are projects that I have finished.  My wife had an idea about writing a book on pet loss and the grieving people experience.  We spend four years on the book and interviewed over 100 people.  We published the hardback version in 1998 and the paperback in 2000.  The paperback, It's Okay To Cry, can still be found on Amazon.  The driving force behind the book was my wife.  She held my feet to the fire until it was finished.

We all have ideas.  The key is acting upon our ideas.  What ideas have you had that are still resting in a file folder somewhere?  What ideas have you started but never finished?  What projects do you need to take off the back burner and finish?

Creative Practice
Review your files for past ideas that you have never brought to completion.  Choose the one that you are most passionate about and set a target date for its completion.  Begin working on the project this week.

Fiona Gardner is an artist and photographer based in New York.  She received a BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA in photography from Columbia.  Her work focuses on women and performance in constructed environments.  She has photographed mermaids, Southern belles and Miss Subways.  Miss Subways was a beauty contest which ran between 1941 - 1976 in New York and used to promote the subways.

Here is journalist Amy Zimmer talking about Miss Subways.  Amy and Fiona collaborated to create the book, Meet Miss Subways: New York's Beauty Queens 1941 - 1976.

Reference Links:


NPR Story: (See some of the Miss Subways, then and now.)

New York Times (Nine Miss Subways)