By Joy Noel Laurent |
February 18, 2003
Three years ago, Jeremie Riggleman graduated with a Studio Art degree and set out to discover what the next phase of his life would entail. Amazingly, God allowed him to return to Venezuela, where he had previously visited with a Task Force team, to spend a year teaching the children of the missionaries to the Yanomamo people.
In high school, Riggleman's curiosity and artistic inclinations drove him towards what quickly became one of his favorite hobbies—photography. Because his small school in southern Illinois did not offer photography classes, he bought a few books and taught himself the fine art.
While in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Riggleman found some time away from the classroom to utilize his skills and capture the heart of the people he encountered. He began to discover what he claims "seems too good to be true," that it is possible to do something he really loves and be involved in missions; thus blossomed one of his major dreams in life, to "live in another country and shoot a camera."
The many hours in the darkroom throughout high school and college and his time on the mission field have finally paid off. By request of Dave Harmon, Director of the Weaver Art Gallery, Riggleman's photography is being displayed in the Weaver Gallery from Feb. 7-26. The missions photography exhibit includes work from recent visits to El Salvador, Venezuela and Mexico, namely colorful and candid shots of children. Visitors to the exhibit will attest to the artist's goal of helping "others to see beyond life's securities" by revealing "the needs people have—physical and spiritual."
For now, Riggleman lives in northern Michigan, working for his uncle and volunteering for the local church while he actively seeks opportunities to pursue missions photography. Though he hopes to work independently someday, missions organizations that would allow him to support himself through photography seem more than appealing. Long-term goals, however, remain at the forefront of his mind as he contemplates the direction he wants to take now. "God kind of put on my heart what he wants me to do … defending the orphans," said Riggleman of his vision for the future.
No matter what happens or where he travels, Riggleman will continue to ask himself the question: "if I died and all that was left were the photos I'd taken, what would that say?" There is no doubt that the young artist has a good start in leaving an inspiring legend that is appreciated and well worth remembering.