Travel with a Purpose: Europe, Michael Flicek


Michael’s photographs have been selected for recognition by curators of photography from the Philadelphia Museum of art, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and by the founder and editor of The Photo Review and The Photo Collector. His photographs are included in the Wyoming Governor’s Capital Art Collection, and in the permanent collection of the Bibliotheque national de France. Portfolios of his work have been selected for inclusion in books published by the Center for Fine Art Photography and in COLOR magazine. Michael’s photographs have been recognized with numerous national and international awards and have been selected for group exhibitions in cities from the east coast to the west coast.

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For me, travel has been life-changing. I see the world and the people in the world differently as a result of my travels. More importantly, I also see myself and my place in the world differently. Tribal tendencies emphasize similarities among like people sharing particular beliefs, histories, and traditions. This can provide a comforting sense of belonging. The same tribal tendencies can also contribute to intolerance for differences evident in those seen as lacking membership in the group. When travel is embarked upon with an open mind and heart, however, it has the potential to reveal aspects of the human condition that we all share, regardless of where we are from or the nature of our memberships. This encourages tolerance for, and even a celebration of, those things that make us different.

In The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It, Mark Twain observed, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Twain’s notion of the potential for travel to affect a person in a particular way is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it.

As I write this, nationalism is on the rise in my country and around the world. I recently heard the senior speechwriter of the president of the United States disparage a reporter from the White House lectern by accusing him of having a “cosmopolitan bias.” This struck me as quite strange. defines “cosmopolitan” as “free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world.” Travel holds the potential to promote cosmopolitan attitudes in the best sense of the word. From my perspective (and Twain’s, so it seems) a cosmopolitan attitude is worthy of celebration, not disparagement.

Just as travel has the potential to change the way we see ourselves and others, active engagement in a creative process enhances one’s life in important ways. My experience of a creative process often involves my unconscious surfacing solutions to problems, developing important insights into new ways of thinking, or exposing new directions in some area of my life. These experiences occur in unexpected ways at unexpected times. I cherish the workings of a creative process in many aspects of life.

It is with this in mind that I very intentionally decided to pursue both travel and serious photography. Travel and photography are symbiotic in my life. Travel encourages and supports my interest in photography and, photography provides added motivation and purpose for traveling. By pursuing photography while I travel, I seem to have found a way to bring an active creative process along on my journeys.

My intentional photographic creative process (and there is much about the creative process that is not intentional) involves a thematic, project-based approach which results in a deeper, more satisfying pursuit of photography. This approach involves the linking of photographs within thematically similar subjects and/or methods. Thematic connections are consciously pursued as I search for photographic subjects. Such connections occur on multiple levels. High-level themes like nature studies, architecture speaks, after dark, transportation, or with people are not bound by place or time and are pursued over decades.

Within these higher themes, I increasingly search for smaller projects that are more cohesive and linked by narrower themes, evoked by emotions or an aura of mood and tone associated with a particular time, subject, method, and/or place. Often the higher themes overlap within the smaller projects such that multiple higher themes are present within a smaller thematic project. The creative process associated with the search for new themes or scenes connected to existing and emerging themes further contributes to the satisfaction associated with travel experiences.

My photographic intention is not to simply document the places I’m visiting. Rather, I’m driven to photograph by a desire to produce compelling images that are not just testaments to special places at a point in time, but that are also worthy of the walls of galleries, museums, homes, or other private and public spaces. To the extent this intent is realized, the work has the potential to evoke emotions, inspire a wanderlust, and for some, to inspire photographic and other creative aspirations.


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Exhibit Details

  • Artist: Michael Flicek
  • Gallery: Ptasynski Gallery
  • Start Date: January 21
  • End Date: May 20