Hey Buddah! I hope you don’t mind me using the above pic. This is the bike Buddah rode on that beautiful Thursday to meet up, a casual but representative photo of his work. It’s an everyday thing
Plenty of metaphors in that title right there.
First of all, the term rags has multiple meanings depending on your experiences. Rags to riches can mean coming from a poor background, with little opportunities and negative influences, or positive influences with little outside help for self-fulfillment.
Rags, for some children growing up in Rockford right now, can also mean colors associated with gangs that are heavily intertwined with the neighborhoods where crime is so apparent and ignored. Unfortunately, these colors, or rags being worn by gang affiliated members are near the top of a lot of our Rockford kids influences.
Riches, on the other hand, can also have multiple meanings. First, most of us may think of riches as being very wealthy, or at the least having lots of money (having money and wealth is not the same thing). But a more influencing meaning to riches, in my view, is just knowing that you were able to evolve in your life to not succumb to those burdens of growing up in a crime infested Rockford neighborhood, but instead use those experiences to help others and push them to see a glimpse of their future.
Yesterday, I had a couple drinks with a local photographer, Buddah Barrios, who most recently took a trip with local artists Sarah Danielle Stewart, Javier Jimenez, and Jesus Correa to Manhattan to help document their experiences, with Jaime Perez as the man behind the video camera.
Our topic was meant to discuss how we could get the word out about B-easy Photography, Buddah’s project of showing the “grittiness” of Rockford. However, our conversation turned more towards our upbringings and our experiences that shaped us into who we are today, and proceeded to make me realize that B-easy Photography isn’t just a project, it is a way of life for Buddah. This is Buddah’s way of being a positive influence, his way of expressing his concern for other kids who are going through the same struggles that he went through as a younger man. This is his avenue to the bright side of life, and not the dark side. We both grew up in rough neighborhoods, me on the west side of Rockford in the School Street and Avon area, and Buddah on the south side of Rockford. We both seen things that most kids outside of Rockford would never see. He was influenced by gangs in his neighborhood, because sometimes those are the only people who show a kid love in the streets.
I am a strong believer in the nurture side of the nature vs nurture debate. I believe in the concept of tabula rasa when you are born. So it is true then, to me, that we are all just products of our environments. The Rockford environment is tough for all of us, whether we have rags or riches. But as for the nurture side, Buddah inherently holds a gift of photography and sight based upon his experiences. I applaud his commitment to his project, a commitment I myself at times lack when writing for this blog.
B-easy Photography isn’t just about photos. B-easy Photography, in my opinion, and in the grand scheme of things, is a metaphor to acquiring riches through art and love and respect for who we are. We may not have the money, but Buddah was able to realize the grand scheme of life before he was too deep into the negative influences of his neighborhood, and with the help of positive family and friend relationships, Buddah was able to come up from rags to riches.
Look for some of his work on The Rockford Blog’s Facebook page.
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