Daybreak Arts: Featuring Sidney Sparkle
Jun 06, 2023
Daybreak Arts (formerly “Poverty and the Arts”) strives to shine a light on issues surrounding housing insecurity. Daybreak also provides those who are systematically excluded from opportunity the means to explore their creativity and gain the economic mobility to reclaim access to housing, health, and community.
June’s Featured Artist: Sydney Sparkle of Daybreak Arts
Like many new arrivals, Sydney came to Nashville to start a new season in life. Amidst the typical challenges of finding new employment and new housing, photography has remained a grounding constant. When uncertainties arose, channeling that inner artist brought new hope and possibilities through the support of Daybreak Arts, not only providing a means and structure from the business aspect, but also a life-giving and inspiring community. Daybreak has supported Sydney to continue to grow and make waves in Nashville, capturing the changing currents through an observant and unique lens.
What is it like to be a part of the Daybreak Arts Family?
Everywhere in America, I’ve seen homeless people, but, in Nashville, I find there’s more of a divide between how people view them and what people do about it, which is pretty much nothing. So, I think when I see people at Daybreak doing what they love, even if they aren’t making enough money yet, but they’re excited to make more and see what they can do with it as a career, that’s super inspiring to me and it’s helping motivate me. We’ve all been through this. We’ve all had our own unique situations. My situation was not as bad as some of our Daybreak artists, and I want to lift them up in the same way people have lifted me up.
What brought you to Nashville?
I lived in Dallas, where I first started my professional photography business, and then Chicago for about four years. Then I moved to Nashville. It was a lot of zigzagging around. That’s the crazy thing about not really having a place to live that you own. You kind of jump around. In my current apartment, I have a lot of cute stuff, and I’m already thinking about how much effort it will take to move again. I know I’ll have to [move] because rent is always going up.
I’m lucky enough to have a job that pays for housing. I’m super blessed. Money that comes from my photography from Daybreak basically goes back into my photo business, supplies and stuff. Recently, I made a bigger purchase of a Polaroid lab printer, so I can print some of my prints on Polaroid and sell them in small quantities. I can make some one-of-a-kind pieces and hand them around to my patrons, so there’s some rare ones floating around that no one knows about.
How did you connect with Daybreak Arts?
It was about a year ago when my lease was about to expire, and my landlord decided to sell the apartment. I was struggling to find jobs that suited me well. I was like, well, I need to find something to help me. I stumbled upon Daybreak, applied, and forgot about it. I had applied for a lot of things around that time, but they [Daybreak] were the one thing that reached out. [They have] opened more doors than if I just had a studio. Unlike a lot of creative industries where you hustle a lot on your own, Daybreak has helped get a lot of great opportunities in the door.
Diana - Sidney Sparkle
When did you first think of yourself as an artist?
I’ve had a camera since high school. It the ignition on how I looked at the world. I feel like that was the time I became an artist, but I never labeled it until much later. I think I never wanted to be called an artist because, here in America, being an artist is looked down upon because you don’t make a lot of money, or you have lots of big ideas that are hard to define for some people, and it’s misunderstood a lot. I’ve only really considered myself an artist for a few years.
What was the turning point for that?
I think I started to realize that a lot of the things I loved in the world were kind of looked down upon. A petty example: I love Swedish Pop and was bullied for that in high school, around the same time I got that camera. So, I kind of associate feeling good with the accomplished feelings of being able to make something all of that or from things that people may overlook.
It sounds like there’s a certain empowerment you receive from creating. What does an artist mean to you?
I love to find things that are out of the ordinary or that are small in . Because a lot of people are looking at the big picture, I want people to look at the details of the world. Recently, I’ve been snapping some shots of construction, buildings that have been historical and are now bulldozed. I’m still in that state of wonder in the city of Nashville. I’m still exploring and finding new things, and then those things are disappearing. I want people to cherish them in the moment rather than say, “Oh, that used to be this or that used to be that, and now it’s gone.” I recently took a picture of the detail on a painted brick that was beautifully printed and is now deconstructed and ready to be thrown into a dumpster. Since then, the site’s been gated off. There’s that feeling that you’re being taken away from things before they’re actually taken away.
Takeover - Sidney Sparkle
I have always looked at the world differently and been confused by things that are very common in this country. I question things all the time. [With] photography, I can show [my perspective] to someone, rather than tell it in a possibly abrasive way. I’m also short, so I love those low angles! But when you think about how we all look at things differently, even if we are the same height, it’s pretty wild how different we are.
What gives you the confidence to put your work out into the world?
I’ve always had that emotion of wanting to be perfect from the very beginning, but I found that … the world is so much better when you laugh at your imperfections. … Sometimes the problems that you have are very minor compared to other people. And if I’m better off and I have these great tools already, what can I do to educate others?
At the end of the day, it’s all about the combination of my life experiences, the act of taking a picture and seeing it develop and getting excited and thinking, was a good shot! It’s a gleeful feeling that I don’t think many people feel because we're always focused on the negative. I want my work to inspire that glee in people. You have to have a gleeful attitude to start change. And let’s wear some sparkles while we’re doing it!
For more information on Daybreak Arts, visit https://daybreakarts.org/
Pinhole - Sidney Sparkle