Kottie Gaydos 2010
In the summer of 2010, after graduating from MICA with the Meyer’s Travel Fellowship, I left for the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture for three months. This first trip was life shaping in many ways, but looking back what strikes me is how comforting it was to have a creative task upon graduation. This photo project allowed me to spend time deciding who I was as an artist outside of MICA with the luxury of time and new surroundings. For the next two and a half years this project was my entire focus. To say that I fell in love with Tibet (the land, and with my friends there) would be a gross understatement. Like any extensive travel experience, it altered my perceptions and changed my identity.
From 2010-2012, I spent summer months in Tibet and China, photographing a clan of Khampa Tibetan Nomads and working at the Khampa Cafe and Nomadic Arts Cooperative (and hostel, after 2010). In 2012 I decided that I needed to spend more than 6 months in one location, so I moved back home to Detroit. In many respects this move has taken much longer to adjust to than I had anticipated. Finding a niche in Detroit was overwhelming at times and on more than one occasion I toyed with the idea of moving to Tibet to be a full time restaurant manager.
I did not move, however, and took an internship in 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (in the departments of Development, Education and Public Engagement) which turned into my current position as Education Assistant at MOCAD. Just recently, I began teaching photography classes at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts in town, which has been absolutely wonderful. Eventually, I would like to get my masters and teach full time. I’m also the Director of Communications at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography. DCCP is a wonderful organization and photo gallery that puts on a wide variety of shows (MICA photo students should keep DCCP on their radar for call for entries and portfolio proposals!). Mostly, though, DCCP has become my creative home in Detroit. I can’t stress enough how much value there is to having a creative community, whether it is found in the restaurant industry of remote Tibet or a rust belt photo center.