#SEEN&Heard: Inspirational quotes from prominent Pittsburghers
August 1, 2016 12:00 AM
By Natalie Bencivenga / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This is an occasional piece featuring inspirational quotes from prominent Pittsburghers. In this installment, I asked about a struggle that they have faced in their lives and how they have learned to cope, heal and thrive. If you need to be uplifted, you came to the right place.
Kilolo Luckett: art historian and cultural producer
The Struggle: I’ve always enjoyed going to museums and galleries. I was a curious teenager, and these art trips played a pivotal role in my upbringing. It was here that I enthusiastically discovered what art curators and directors were and learned what their responsibilities entailed. However, I struggled to find myself within these art establishments. It occurred to me that the majority of artwork, artists and staff reflected Western culture with little space for anyone else. It made me feel less than trivial and invisible. These painful memories fuel the work I do as an art historian and cultural producer to showcase the talents, highlight the influences and amplify the voices of black creatives in contemporary culture. I’ve worked and consulted for some of the most prestigious art establishments in Pittsburgh, advocating for greater inclusion and equity for people of color through exhibitions, programming and leadership. I persevere by working with dynamic and knowledgeable people to grow a contemporary art scene in Pittsburgh that celebrates the breadth and talents of people from the African diaspora.
The Quote: I recently went to a birthday celebration for beloved friend and extraordinary artist, Jim Kidd. One of the guests suggested that when an elder celebrates his/her birthday, they give advice. Jim shared these enlightened words: “One of the best things in life that will help you overcome difficulties is you have to learn how to endure. Endurance will help you a lot of times. It may be tough and it may be hard, but if you can endure and persevere, life will be worthwhile for you.”
Chancelor Humphrey, photographer and creator of Keep Pittsburgh Dope:
The Struggle: One of the prominent struggles in my life took place last summer. I stepped out on my own to make my photography my primary source of income, and it was tougher than I thought. It was slow for me to get clients and gigs at first. I struggled financially (the most I ever have in my life), I struggled mentally and my confidence was at an all-time low, but I still pressed through. By the beginning of January 2016 I had enough clients and income to stay afloat, and now I'm more financially stable than ever before.
The Quote: “If you have a vision and a dream, you must trust and embrace your individual struggle. If it was easy, anyone could do it.”
Leah Lizarondo, co-founder 412 Food Rescue
The Struggle: My father was a hard-working man who grew up very poor in the Philippines. He would share memories of World War II, barely 7 years old, hearing air raid sirens and having to scoop up his younger brothers to carry them through high grass that would cut the skin on his legs as he ran to the nearest shelter. He would tell us stories about being a kid — and shining shoes for a living, working at street corners. But he went to school and worked hard. He wanted our lives to be different — it was important for him to provide for us. And he did. My childhood was very different from his. I had everything I ever needed. But my dad fell ill, and years of medical bills slowly depleted our finances. And when he passed away, our lives changed. Our rock was gone, and we only had one another. We had to rebuild. And I think what propelled us all is the ethic that my dad passed on to us — the value of hard work and believing in yourself. And with those, you can begin to change your life.
The Quote: “With each challenge that life throws at me, I think of my dad, and what he had to overcome. And it gives me strength. And I move forward.”
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