A Butterfly Effect

It started when he was two. I made a last minute stop at the Lego store in NYC before flying home. Grady and his mother picked me up from the airport and I was instantly quizzed on what was in my suitcase. Those early days of bringing home surprises for this little toddler with big brown eyes – damn – I didn’t know it at the time but that was the good stuff. That night we sat down in the living room and played with these big blocky Legos. No rules. No instructions. It’s as if building with Legos became some alternate universe for him. Over the years I watched as he would build for hours on end. Each project became larger and more intricate. An obsession was born.

We put in motion something I never saw coming. Something I’m still trying to process.

Grady is 7 now and his hunger to create has exploded from those early days. Sketching. Pastels, Oil paint. Whatever he can get his hands on. Some days he barely looks up from the pages that occupy him. My house is littered with rough drafts of dinosaurs and cities and landscapes. The fridge is his personal gallery. As he’s discovered his voice I’ve realized I can only offer so much guidance in his artistic journey.

Recently I reached out to my good friend Erin Tyler about working with Grady through private art lessons. She’s an incredible artist and I knew Grady would immediately gravitate to her gentle demeanor. Over the course of 6 classes I saw Grady look to Erin for approval and guidance. They very quickly developed a cadence. During their last class together I asked Erin’s husband Jesse if he would document some of the magic happening between those two. Using a mix of 35mm and medium format film he captured what I’ve been seeing for months. The fading innocence of young artist who is beginning the search to find meaning in his work.

I’m a huge believer that every artist needs their heroes. Erin thank you for allowing Grady to witness your grace and talents. You’ve guided him into new territory by showing him how beautiful the process of creating can be. The butterfly effect you’ve put in motion with this little human is going to be beautiful. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it someday.