Day 36: Escape Artist

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February 5, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Running away is hard.  We’re taught to tough things out, to endure, to grin and bear it, and never to run away.  But what if running away is the only way to be yourself?  To be free?  We’re bound to and by so many things, sometimes with much reluctance.  How much is someone supposed to grin and bear?

When Erika Dely took her vows, she “sealed” herself (the term for “marriage” used by the Church of Latter Day Saints) to a man and a life she never believed could change so dramatically, and not for the better.  For five years, she endured, and felt herself slipping farther away – losing her confidence, her passion and her life day by day.  One day, though, in an act of glorious selfishness (which is really just to say “self respect”), she ran away.  Erika unbound herself from all that which was suffocating her life, and lucky for us, she brought a camera.

In 2010, I finally left. After taking months off from really creating anything artistically, I picked myself up and planned trips around the globe that would allow me to see the world and get away from everything I had known.

Little by little I started photographing the world, and little by little my confidence grew in myself and in my art. Standing in Rome staring at one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen, I realized that no one else would take an image of that building in the same way I would. At that moment my confidence soared and I have since allowed it to continue to lead my life to where it is meant to be.

Unsealed will be a showcase on display in Chicago as well as a published book chronicling her journey across the world, searching for the passion and the creativity she had lost for so long.  The pictures alone are beautiful, but their context in a journey towards regaining, rediscovering and really reviving Erika’s life makes them both interesting and wonderful beyond the 1000 words they’d otherwise depict on their own.

Erika did a brave and selfish thing and all I can think to do is congratulate her for reclaiming her self-worth.  It’s an honor to support her ongoing journey to live a life unrestrained.  I hope it inspires others towards similarly bold action in pursuit of fuller lives.  Here’s to you, Erika, and to a life unhindered and unsealed.


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