THE MUSEUM OF LIGHT: Just as an alchemist transforms led into gold, is there an element of transformation in your creative expression? How does this process for you, connect to that of an alchemists?
FERRARI SHEPPARD: This probably the most poetic question I’ve ever been asked. Alchemy, in comparison to creating art? Absolutely. I was conversing with my friend the other night about optimism and pessimism and finding a balance, if possible. I asked her, “Do you think there is more bad or good in the world?” My friend, being an optimist, answered that there’s more good in the world than bad, but I’m not convinced that’s true for me. I think one has to be open to seeing good in the world, and actually find it. Positivity is everywhere but it has to be located, mined, refined, molded and polished, like a precious metal. The creation of art works similarly. Some of my favorite artists personal lives are fucked up, they struggle with mental illness, alcoholism, oppression and existential crisis. Somehow, they are able to turn those issues into something beautiful and timeless. I work to do the same. Each time I write, paint or take a photograph I want to touch on something innately human, experiences difficult to articulate.
THE MUSEUM OF LIGHT: Artists are often labeled as “stars.” Just as a star radiates light and the planets then reflect this light. Do you see your work behind the pen or behind the lens, as a reflection of this light?
FERRARI SHEPPARD: Talent is not fair. It’s not equally distributed nor is it always universally celebrated. However, I do believe everyone has a gift and one must recognize and putting it to use. We live in an age of microwavable celebrity. People become famous every few seconds. They become stars for no reason at all. In this way, the concept of stardom has become warped and almost meaningless. Where that leaves me is with the art itself. Since the popularization of social media, I’ve struggled to resist tenancies to talk instead of producing work. I see this as a problem for many young people, from aspiring folks to professionals. To that end, when I create art, I do so with the intention of being the best that I can possibly be. If that results in stardom, so be it. I try not to make being a star my goal. Hot stars burn out the most quickly.
THE MUSEUM OF LIGHT: When an artist is not “creating” it is often labeled a “creative block.” Where do you find the creative spark? What inspires your work and does it require a sense of courage to create from this unknown space?
FERRARI SHEPPARD: I’m speaking to you from Tanzania. By some wild twist of fate, a boy who grew in the projects has the opportunity to travel. I am not wealthy and most of time, I don’t know how I end up in the places I do or why. I do know that travel sparks my inspiration. Being forced out of my comfort zone, being lost, and finding my way contributes greatly to my perspective and subsequent creative output. I’m inspired by tears, laughter, uncertainty, purpose, sunrises, sunsets and first kisses. I’m galvanized by passion, wittiness and aesthetics. I derive courage to create from the acceptance that I’m literally built for that purpose. It’s who I am.
Photo Credit: Ferrari Sheppard