Stay on the bus.

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Photos © 2014 Randall Armor / New England School of Photography

Using the metaphor of the bus lines

in his home city of Helsinki, which can confuse newcomers since all of the lines seem at first blush to be going in the same direction, Arno urged his listeners to stay on the bus; to stick with their artistic efforts, even if these seem to be going nowhere, for it is only through perseverance that the true direction of your efforts can be perceived. He used not only his own work, which has been mining the rich pictorial ground of the body in context for over four decades, but also the work of his teachers, Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan, and images by Jacques Henri Lartigue and others in bringing home the point.

If you want to get anywhere, you have to stay on the bus.

As an artist who has walked away, jumped and fallen from the bus many times over the years, I found myself asking the same old question,

“But how do I know I’m going anywhere?”

I think the answer is not going to come to me in words, any more than the meaning of Arno’s photographs is ever going to be straightforward. Sometimes I guess we just have to have faith…

keep faith and carry on.

The process of creating artwork is never easy, and it’s always easier to jump off the bus and ask questions. I think Arno was going beyond counseling patience, he was asking us to trust ourselves more; to hang out over that canyon with him, confident only in our own strength and in our own vision. He doesn’t fake the poses in his photos: no photoshop and no troop of assistants to pull him out of danger. He commits to a picture, putting himself on the line with every shot.

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But isn’t that what art is all about?
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