Name: Annie Craycraft
Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor
The aim of my project came in two parts. The first was to observe and photograph public gathering spaces in Bulgarian cities, and the second was to write about my observations and how the spaces displayed physical manifestations of rhetoric. These photographs and the writing were compiled in a Mixbook scrapbook.
What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
Going into this project, I foolishly assumed that it would be simple and straightforward – as if the implications of the gathering places’ designs would be immediately apparent to me. Frankly, I underwent quite the crisis when I started taking pictures in the first city I visited! I had to completely reconfigure the way I went about the project: I changed my mental definition of a gathering place, I started taking notes in ways that I hadn’t expected to, and I was constantly redoing pages (in my mind) in a book I wouldn’t be working on until I would return home two weeks later. My ideas of how a project of any sort is formed and completed were certainly transformed. I’d never expected something I planned for months to change so drastically in two hours of taking pictures and a few more hours of panicking and reflection. If anything was transformed in the process of working on my project, it was my understanding of how vital it is to be able to think on your feet and adapt to unexpected circumstances. The changes I ended up making brought my project to a much better state than it would have been in had I continued in my original planned path.
What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
As I said, my moment of panic led to the transformation. I spent a long night in a hostel rewriting my plans for the two weeks of photographing and exploring gathering places, and I bounced a lot of ideas off my sister, with whom I was staying. I learned a good lesson in asking for help: without my sister telling me to calm down and think straight for a few minutes, I would have wasted a lot of my time in the first few cities I visited! She helped me find the humor in my situation: months of planning for the whole thing to change at the last minute, which meant that I needed to make a few snap decisions, and I need two hours to decide what I want to wear for the day. What could I do?
My answer was simple, and it echoed what a lot of photography enthusiasts say: take as many pictures as possible so you have plenty to choose from. I ended up with about 1,500 pictures, and I wish I had taken more! That choice, along with my decision to write as much as possible, helped me recenter my focus. Instead of following the plan I had wanted to follow down to the last word, I let my process be more organic. I would arrive at a city, and I’d get lost almost every single time because I couldn’t always read the signs or I’d miss a landmark on the simple maps I used; these weren’t setbacks, though. Instead, I took pictures everything I could find and followed the flow of the city until I ended up in gathering places – typically the exact ones my sister recommended I visit. The physical rhetoric of the cities led me to the areas I was looking for, and that helped reinforce the point of my project.
This event was stressful at first, but it actually made the project a lot less stressful in the long run because it helped me realize how flexible I could be with the way I went about doing the project. It was more fun, and I ended up with some good stories (and pictures!) of my city wandering. I ended up with some great notes to work with and write from, and I’ve put thought to doing something like this closer to home – maybe in Columbus – just for the sheer enjoyment of such an undertaking and to compare things. This was a very happy crisis if there ever was one!
Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
I like things to be planned out and rigidly structured, and this project made me think on my feet because I simply did not have the foresight to plan for my entire project to change so drastically. Quick thinking is not my strong point, and this was a great way for me to practice it and put plans into motion through it. I had to be adaptable, and I’m typically not. It was a great learning experience, and it was such a good way for me to be pushed way, way out of my comfort zone. As I explained in the last section, I’d really love to do mini projects like this in areas that are familiar to me: Columbus and my hometown, for starters, as well as other places I happen to visit. This transformation is valuable because it’s inspired me to continue on with pursuing little projects just for the fun of it, and it’s also helped me in my planning for academics and making changes to better my work output. I’m actually writing a paper right now, and even though it’s almost done, I’m completely redoing huge portions of it because what I started out with just isn’t working. It’s a daunting task, but I like to think that my experiences with my STEP project made me a bit more open to changing projects to get a better product at the end.
Mother Bulgaria statue