Pressing On in a Pandemic: Space to Think

Pressing On in a Pandemic: Space to Think
Words by Erwin Davis II

As a writer and an artist, I use my words and photography to express the emotions I can’t always verbally relay. This year, I’ve used my creations to elaborate on my feelings and efforts in mental exploration. Here in Chattanooga, there are dozens of places to take a photograph. With tons of trees emblazoned in autumn tones and mountain overlooks for days, there is no shortage of vantage points for curation of a beautiful image.

I wanted to take an image that exemplified 2020. It had to be thought-provoking, and it had to embody the moments of individual introspection brought on by long stretches of being confined to one’s home and head. It had to be something that I’d look at and feel all of the emotions that this year has made me and so many others feel. Isolated, silent, still, desolate, optimistic, hopeful, alone, connected; all in one image.

And it has to have a name that suits the time—the perfect name. When I took this photograph, I knew it was the one.

I knew it had everything I wanted and would bring back memories of 2020 long after its close. Trees have always been a source of life to me. They give life; they are the circle of life in their entire existence. Having the tree as the subject of the photo gave me a subtextual tie to the life and new beginnings to be birthed from a time like we’ve never seen. The focus of this image is a tree in a unique state. Approaching its cycle’s end, it is draped in the colors of change in autumn, and positioned seemingly on an island by itself. Coupled with the biggest, bluest, purest sky I’ve ever captured and it immediately brings me thoughts of the silence and seclusion of the last few months juxtaposed with the hopeful color of a future yet to come.

Now I just needed a name. What do you call an image that is eternally attached to a moment in time where time stands still? How do you label a photograph that stands only to invoke remembrance of a year with more hours available for thought than ever? I tried for hours to come up with an appropriate title for my creation. Alone in my apartment staring at it on the wall, I couldn’t come to a concrete conclusion of what it should be.

Even though I didn’t think of one, I know that when I look at this piece, it takes me to a special place recalling 2020 and all of its moments of contemplation. A place where I have all of the time in the work and tons of quiet, paused, space to think.

Hmm—Space To Think...I like the sound of that.