Today we received not one but three stunningly blunt rejections. In August, in order to organize and publish some of the award winning images from our #hike4birds across the nation on the Trans Canada Trail Sean applied to several Art Residencies here in Canada. Today we heard back from 3 of them each noting that “because he did not hold a PhD or an advanced degree in art he could not possibly be a photographer or considered an artist". One went on to firmly assert that "no one without an advanced degree could make a contribution to an understanding of the nation or the Canadian aesthetic.”
Not only is he heartbroken by these announcements but I have
to say (as someone who holds a PhD) that not having an advanced degree does not
mean that you have nothing to contribute!
As we have trekked this nation I have seen amazing art, photography, and
citizen science contributions from regular Canadians from coast to coast to
coast. Facebook and Instagram alone
daily demonstrate that a 12 year old with a cell phone can transform the world
with their words and images! I can
honestly say that you don’t need to have a university degree to make a
difference!! The world today needs passion, dedication, and inspiration just as
much (if not more) than it needs people with more titles and degrees. Having a
degree is simply one way to learn about something, but it is – by and far - not
the only way to know about things. We all have skills and we all have something of value to contribute to the understanding of this nation and our communities.
Feeling disappointed at the moment but still sure of the direction we are trekking and the sense that Sean’s photographs portraying Canada from the Trail are unique, inspiring and important.
I suspect people forget that just because he is not in most of the photographs it does not mean he is not on the trek – after all someone is taking all of these pictures!