A Picture is Worth a Thousand Voices

As we found our seats in the back of the lecture hall—hiding as best we could that an interloper was among the crowd—we took possession of two deep chairs that were surely the root of Everett Lounge’s name. Forgetting for a moment that this was a Teachers College workshop I got right to work as Arlène Casimir-Siar took command of the session and schooled the crowd on the full scope of what it means to have a diverse library. To my left, as always, was my wife. When prompted the two of us had our micro discussion about the topic at hand, ignoring the lone younger teacher who had obviously confiscated the only other comfy chair immediately to my right for her pre-workshop phone call and the more relaxed wifi access on her laptop—she never once looked offended that I didn’t engage her in any dialogue. The choice of workshops was a little peek into the curiosity and inner circle of what my wife’s work entails. The nitty gritty of her job is often a dinner table topic but the aspirational always seems to take a back seat. As we dove deeper into the topic I listened, learned, and pondered upon my own library as we were opened to a new understanding of diversity as Arléne dissected the idea of #ownvoice works. What struck me the most was what I gravitated to in terms of my own liking, whether it be in the library I have collected or in terms of how I write and for who. As I stated the other day I had long ago dreamt of wandering those very halls of  Columbia—though I didn’t include the chairs in any part of the fantasy—on my way to a life as a writer. Why that for a spell seemed more logical than a future as an artist I am not sure—I didn’t have examples of either in my life to aspire to—but as time came to choose, the words seemed less logical than the pictures. And there was the moment in a nutshell—representation, connection, understanding—all in a diverse array of examples. Not to correlate the core of what we were talking about to my own experience as an artist and having little to base my life on when I chose this path, but I left the room—later that afternoon—knowing that I had that much more of an obligation to add to the dialogue moving forward from here.—Dominick

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