Rodgers displays his 'Work in Progress'
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Word of the day: Sedulous
1. Involving or accomplished with careful perseverance.
2: Diligent in application or pursuit.
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Sedulous. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved June 13, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sedulous
On Nov. 12, 2018, local photographer Jeremy Rodgers went down for a nap to remedy a headache, but when he awoke he couldn't move the right side of his body. Three days later the then-42-year-old woke up in a hospital room unable to speak and lying partially paralyzed. Rodgers had suffered two strokes, putting the ability to continue his life-long passion of photography in detriment.
After recovering from his surgeries in the intensive care unit, he was immediately put into rehabilitation to relearn everything he had lost, from full mobility to speech. One large battle he faced at the time that he continues to see remnants of today is aphasia.
"Aphasia is where when I can’t think of words and numbers during conversation," Rodgers said. "... aphasia’s weird because, you know, like if somebody asks you something you know the words, but then if you say it, it will come out like 'butterfly' whenever I was trying to say 'my elbow hurts.' It’s just like the wrong word. It’s the weirdest thing ever.
"...It was like I was living in a dream world where nothing worked."
Rodgers' long-term goal in rehab was to be able to once again lift his camera.
"That’s my passion, and I couldn’t even hold my camera, so that was scary," he said. "But, I mean, it was a goal, so I was constantly — it’s really weird because I measured how heavy my camera was, and my camera is like, I don’t know, roughly 5 pounds if I have a small lens on it, so I was like OK I need a five pound weight and I need to like start working my muscles with this five pound weight, and it took months before I was able to do that."
On Memorial Day 2019, less than a year later, Rodgers took the first photo that would be a part of his first photography exhibit since his strokes. Placed on display June 4, "Work in Progress" can be found and purchased inside Kollective Coffee + Tea, 110 Central Ave., through the summer.
The photos in the exhibit follow a different theme compared to Rodgers' past work. Before, he focused on people and products of storm chasing; now, the focus is on places he can walk and hike to. The change in theme was sparked by using physical activity in his rehabilitation, and having lost the ability to drive as he recovers.
"Another drawback of my stroke was I stopped driving, so it was really hard to get to jobs and stuff that had people involved with it," Rodgers said. "It kind of turned into basically just walking around, and so yeah, that was my new style."
The last exhibit he had in Kollective was in 2015, and were all photos of lightening.
"I’m a storm chaser, or I use to be a storm chaser," Rodgers said. "That’s all I ever did, really. But these (currently on display), there’s like one lightening shot, and the rest of them are like pretty scenery."
While he misses taking photos of people, today Rodgers is alive, well and still taking photos and making photography trips with his brother three years after suffering his strokes.
"I still have trouble remembering certain words, but like I can walk, (however) I haven’t really figured out running yet," he said, chuckling. "I can’t get my — like running is really weird once you haven’t done it in a long time. So I’m trying to start running again, but everything else I’m figuring it out slowly."