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Before I started traveling, I lacked culture. I didn’t have experience with the real world. I assumed every city was exactly like Minneapolis. I was wrong. No city was like Minneapolis. No city was like Madrid. No city was like New York. No city was like San Francisco. No city was like London. The people and cultures of each new city I visited were so much different from the way we were in Minnesota. Each respective culture encouraged me to travel to another place, to experience the culture of that city, those people, their art.

Traveling helped me absorb culture through the street cobbles and dirt paths of the parks, from the underground humidity of the subways to the jagged, glowing lines of a cityscape at night. It didn’t matter that the cultures I took from were not my own. I made them my own and they shaped me as a person.

Before I began to travel, I had little interest in art. When I was in New York, last year, I had the opportunity to visit an art exhibition called Hero at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, a former synagogue. The combination of art and the relevance of the building, as a former holy place, created in me a kind of alchemy. I was, for the lack of a better word, moved.

I was never good with the paintbrush, pen, or terra-cotta clay, but I found my calling in the medium of photography. All because of a former synagogue and an art exhibit. I enrolled in a class that taught me about the camera and the history behind the magical box with a shutter and lens. I came to love it. I began to visit museums. I read more novels. I watched films; not movies, but films. The celluloid and silver salts of another generation, so much different from the banality and triteness of today’s movies. I took pictures of culture: music, people, places, life. They became part of me, defining who I was and how I viewed the world.

I had become an artist.

My culture became that of a city’s. I was influenced by art, by music, by people, by films, by architecture. I was reborn. I was a phoenix. Culture led me to art, as the stars led the ancient navigators to new frontiers.

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