Portrait Tommy Gibson


Thomas Donald Gibson. I'm 77 and I live in Washington county outside of Bellingham. There were not that many African-Americans here. In fact, there were six families in the entire county when I was growing up here. And, uh, and we were dirt poor. I was the oldest of 11 children and I always, I always thought that everyone else in my class had, uh, they had a better off than I did. Number one, because they was. Number two, because I thought everybody had more money. Two weeks after I graduated. If I was gone at $25 in my pocket and I was gone, I just wanted out when I got back up here and reconnected with people that I went to high. We would get together for breakfast and I was hear things and we would, we would, our relationships grew, and these are people that I thought I would never have anything to do with. Cause you know, they were up here and I was down here. And so that's, that's helped me to understand that things change. As you get older, we start to understand things better. We start to, uh, appreciate the friendships that we have. We start to appreciate and understand that what, what we had in our youth is not the. What we, what we have as, as adults is as quite different aging is a process that if you let it get to you, you become depressed over time because the body is, is, is, is, uh, as we know things, the minute. And my case, uh, with, with photography, I'm continuing to learn. And I find that that's helped me an awful lot to, uh, maintain my mental sharpness, constantly studying, reading, learning, new things, uh, interacting with people who are, who are in photography. When I was teaching, I never thought of it as work. I never said I'm going to work when I was, especially when I was a full-time instructor. I didn't, I didn't say I was going to work. I said, I'm going to say. Um, when I became a department chair, I said, I'm going to work. I worked for a number of years as an industrial and commercial photographer. And I always knew that I knew how to manipulate my tools, but I always question, am I an artist, especially with, in my case with, uh, you know, wearing the skin, you don't have a conflict. You think that whatever I'm doing, a white person can do it. Everyone else can do it better than that. That's a, that's a, that's a fact for most African-Americans. So, uh, I developed an I and I, and I'm starting to believe that that I'm as good as most of my contemporaries, especially since I've retired and I've spent a lot more time than trying to be an artist and not doing. The work that someone else wanted me to do the, do the work that I wanted to do. I've uh, I decided, yes, I'm an artist. I'm starting to believe that I'm an artist other than things falling up, you know, things wearing out, um, hip. I had a hip replacement. I had a bad, had two bad feet that needed a lot of work. I had back surgery in terms of, to me, that's small con. Pair it to people who have terminal who have a terminal illness. I used to think that that, that, um, I would go on forever doing the things that I wanted to do when I think of someone who was in our, in my 8 77, I think I used to think that they're, they're barely able to stand up and, uh, I don't, and I look at people who are younger than me, who are barely able to stand up. Uh, I don't, uh, people, my age, they're old. Some people are old and others are not learning to live with. What you cannot do anymore is for me, that's, uh, that's very helpful in, in, in, in, in, in trying to age gracefully. I'm not comfortable with the fact that I can't do certain things. I'm not comfortable with the fact that life is changing. One of the things that's discouraging is as we, how our bodies age and how our bodies look. Um, you, again, you need to embrace that. Also. It's a part of living. I think the loss that I, the one loss is the loss of innocence. And, and, and, and, and the age group today, then we, we, when we grew up, it was, it was an age of innocence. We, uh, I, I I'd be my own mad a little bit, uh, but a lot, actually, the healing for me, the big healing is forgiveness, forgiving people who have, uh, who have done you wrong and, and move on with. We all traveled through this life. We think we're doing it alone, but we're not. There's always someone there that there's been someone who has helped us along our way along this journey of life tomorrow, isn't promised to any of us. And every day I wake up, it's a blessing. It's a good day. I've always had a love of the outdoors. So I'm really drawn to doing landscapes and doing old buildings and old, uh, cars and rusty things like that, that sort of thing, especially the trees are old things, and I tend to be drawn to things that are growing. So when I think of an old rusty car, that rust has growth, the weathering wood that's growth.