“My teacher is pretty and nice. She likes me. I’m in first grade and I’m going to learn to read. I’m 6 years old.”
"My mom was into alcohol and drugs real bad and had never been there for us, so my grandma raised us. She was old-fashioned, old school. I had a brother who was in and out, but it was mostly just my grandma, my older sister, and me. We stayed in south Memphis, and I was in the optional program at Rozelle Elementary. I was real smart. And I was a majorette too. My grandma tried to raise us right. She always told us we’d never have anybody else like her in our lives, anybody who took care of us the way she did. I didn’t like for her to say that, but when she died, it seemed like that’s what happened, like what she said came true. Everything went topsy-turvy. I was 15 years old then. After she died, I didn’t have anywhere to lay my head anymore; I didn’t have any family. I dropped out of school and learned early how to get by. I had dreamed of being a teacher when I grew up because I could spell real well and I liked reading and writing, but I left that dream behind. I felt bad, like there was no hope anymore. I've been homeless ever since my grandma passed. I’ve been thinking about going back and getting my GED, but I know it won’t be easy. I can read real good but I have trouble with comprehension and trouble with math. All that algebra and those x’s and y’s. I started a program and then had to drop out, but I’m thinking of trying again because I can’t get anywhere without an education. I know I can do the work, but sometimes I don’t feel like I can. When people talk down about me, it feels like I can’t. I want to be an independent woman one day and not have to depend on a man to take care of me."
"I was in and out of foster homes from the time I was 3 years old. Something like five different homes and a lot of different schools. My friends at school never knew I was in foster care. They couldn’t tell. I was kind of embarrassed about it, but it’s nothing now. Sometimes I cried when I’d have to leave a home because I was getting so involved with the family. But I was young then. I don’t cry as much now. I haven’t cried since I was 18 years old. I’ve learned to cope with everything out here. I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve gotten used to homelessness. But I’m hoping for a better chance at life, you know? I'm looking for peace and acceptance. For someone who can be there for me. Family, friends, or whatever. I’ve tried every drug there is, and I’m tired of it all. I'm ready to give it all up. I haven’t done any drugs in a few days and I’m trying to keep it that way. I know God gave us a path and I haven’t been walking it. I guess it’s time for a change. You know?"
"I’m channeling my inner Elvis. Elvis lives. He does; he’s right before ya. He’s talking to ya."
Images below from One in a Million exhibit at L. Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin Ave, Suite 104, through August 27, 2016
"When I started painting, I wanted to capture the sweetness of a simpler time and preserve the memories of places I’ve been seeing for 60 some-odd years. That’s why the exhibit is called A Gentle Memphis. Everything now is grit and grind, but this is a different side of the city. I’ve always loved architecture; I’ve driven around and taken pictures of interesting buildings since I was eighteen years old, and all the places in these paintings were special to me growing up: Skateland, Summer Drive-In, the Book Depot, the watermelon stand in Hernando, the fountain in Germantown (that’s been torn down and replaced by a building), Tops Barbecue where my husband and I used to go after he got off work on Broad---he was 21 then and I was 19. And Poplar Avenue: How many thousands of times have you driven down Poplar Avenue and looked at the scene right there? That Burger King is gone now and something else is in its place. So many places don’t even exist anymore. It’s important to preserve these memories because things change. Things always change."
A Gentle Memphis is Carolyn Pollan's first art show. Her watercolor paintings are on display through August 27, 2016, at Caritas Village, 2509 Harvard Avenue. Greeting cards available at Bingham & Broad, 2563 Broad. She also creates coloring books and personalized projects.
"I’m out today doing an engagement session for my daughter and her fiancé. I love capturing beauty and natural light. I think the best shot I've ever taken was of the sunrise over the ocean in Jamaica. It was really nice."
“As the dean at St. Mary's Cathedral, I’ve met many wonderful people over the years, and I find that there are angels in disguise everywhere. One is K_____, who is chronically homeless. I’ve had plenty of experiences with her where she was sweet and kind and gentle, even with my own children, but I’ve also seen her when she’s been explosive. She told me that she came to Memphis because she had a child being treated at St. Jude, but that the child died and she could not bring herself to leave. So she remains on the streets. Getting beneath the surface with her opened my eyes to see that we all have a long history, we’re all fragile, and we’re all suffering. She used to come by my house and knock on my door, but I haven’t seen her in a while. She’s a strong, powerful woman on the outside, but you tell on the inside she is the most tender of souls. She’s bipolar, a mother who has lost something and is unwilling to leave the place where her child died.”
Andy Andrews, Dean of St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, 700 Poplar Avenue
“The images I’ve included in the collage are the media’s definition of beauty, but this piece is saying: ‘Embrace who you are, no matter what shape or form you come in. Be yourself and don’t let people tell you who you should be. Don’t let them turn you away from who you truly are.’ In high school I used to cry and be insecure because of the ways I was different, but eventually people started to love me for who I was because I started loving and accepting myself. We’re all different; we just need to treat each other the way we want to be treated. Everyone was raised differently, everyone looks at things differently. Let everyone do them. We all have a role to play in life, and together we make the world go round.”
Crystal Rhodes' art is currently on exhibit at Chrystyles Celebrity Cuts, 500 S. Main.
“I joined the military right out of high school, went to nursing school, and have worked as an Army Nurse for several years now. I mainly take care of patients after surgery. It's good to see them wake up and be okay, but I also like working pre-op. While I’m getting them ready for surgery, I have a chance to get to know them as people and find out what they do and what they like. Having those conversations helps them to calm down and not be so anxious.”
“My mom came here from Cambodia through Catholic Charities, and I was born here, so I’m a first generation American and a true Memphian. Being first generation is hard because you’re kind of in the middle. You’re trying to grow up, but at the same time having to do a lot of things for your parents because they don’t speak English. My aunt came to the United States before my mom, so her English is pretty good. She was always around when I was growing up and helped me a lot. She was like a second mom. We didn’t cook together or do things like that, but she was a storyteller. We used to hang out at her house, and she’d tell me stories about what is was like for her growing up in Cambodia and what it was like coming here. I’m definitely going to pass those stories on to the next generation.”