My name is Bailee Golden, and I am currently interning with NCLAC. I caught up with Neal Blackman, a local photographer currently pursuing a PhD in physics. He will be involved in NCLAC’s Holiday Art Crawl this year and will be located at Trenton Interiors. We are happy to have him as a featured member artist of NCLAC and were interested to learn how he balances so many seemingly different hobbies: travel, art, and science.
Have you been met with any obstacles in your pursuit of both the arts and the sciences?
Because art and science are traditionally treated as separate disciplines, there are not many opportunities for a scientist to grow as an artist. This limits my chances to network with other artists or to share my work. But my greatest obstacle has always been an inner conflict; I sometimes wonder if a scientist can belong in the art community.
Ultimately, this is why NCLAC has been invaluable in my pursuit of the arts. Events like the Peach Art Exhibit and the Holiday Art Crawl have provided me with a sense of belonging. By fostering artists with varying backgrounds, these events have given me the confidence to further pursue my passion for photography. After all, I believe that art and science share a common purpose: to better understand the world around us.
In your artist bio you said you love to travel. What has been your favorite place to photograph and why?
I love to travel because our planet is full of fascinating animals, people, and landscapes. So far, my favorite photography destination has been Katmai National Park in Alaska. I spent a week observing coastal grizzly bears in their natural habitat, hundreds of miles away from civilization. Being in the company of these remarkable and often misunderstood creatures has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Has participating in local art events such as the Peach Art Exhibit given you any interesting opportunities?
In today’s digital era, the majority of pictures are seen on social media and quickly forgotten with a quick flick of the finger. But photographs are best appreciated in large, high-quality prints where all of the details of the work can be experienced in a tangible way. The Peach Art Exhibit gave me the opportunity to display my photographs in a physical medium, which increased my exposure as a photographer and inspired me to continue sharing my work.
What would you say to others who want to pursue more than one passion?
Balancing multiple passions can be a difficult juggling act. I sometimes have feelings of guilt if I spend too much time on either passion since it feels like I am neglecting the other. However, I eventually realized that my two passions complement each other. I often apply my scientific knowledge to my photography. Conversely, photography fosters my creativity and replenishes my energy, both of which are required for scientific breakthroughs.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have discovered how important the support of others can be when chasing dreams — especially in the arts. I would be lost without the encouragement of my family, friends, and the NCLAC community.
You can discover more about Neal and his work at his website, www.nealblackman.com.