We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily P. McLaughlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Social impact is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I was having lunch with a friend a couple weeks ago, and we were talking about different forms of protesting. I’ve taken some time to examine and think about my work. I’m always striving to put out joy, hope, and light into the world with what I create. I can’t even lie and say that I haven’t been discouraged lately but I think courage comes in the form of continuing something especially when you want to quit. My friend mentioned that joy is a form of protest and a form of resistance. Often times when things get rough we tend to fall into the negative, I’m guilty of it myself, but when you can rise with hope and optimism you’re still protesting against what tried to steal your voice or tear you down. Light will always outshine the dark even if it takes a little longer. For those of you who are choosing to protest with joy, keep moving forward you never know what your light is doing for someone else. Social impact can come from anyone and our way of impact but might be different from someone else, and that’s okay.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an artist who likes to focus on the Light. I know what it’s like to be at the very end of your rope, to want to give up hope, or feel like your voice doesn’t matter. I strive to help create the voice for the one who feels like I did and still do at times. Purpose is the most important thing to me when it comes to my art. My words, my photos, and what I create will always be personal because it comes from the heart. I like to highlight the journey of not only myself but each person who I’ve had the chance to work with or capture. Photography has also become a way for me to remember people and places in the best light, Regardless of what happened after. It’s healing for me to look back on photos of people or places I no longer find myself part of, and remember the joy of those moments.
My work is taking a turn now, I spent years on the road, in different cities gathering images, and different stories. Allowing the stories and voices of others to educate me, now I’m taking all that I’ve learned and letting my voice break through. Art is a form of protest, Joy is a form of protest and in a world that is riddled with hate, and pain I always want to be an artist who reveals the Light. I’ve learned a lot about failure in my journey, the importance of collaboration, and finally staying true to yourself. I spent years trying to be someone else, and the only time I ever felt like myself was when I was creating something. Now I’m at a stage in my life where I’ve started to truly accept my voice, and my story. I’ve overcome a lot of different things that have shown up in my work. I believe that God took me through each lesson, failure, and triumph to lead up to this moment in my journey. The healing moments, the ones where I can be honest with myself and see the light begin to break through.
When I was in my early twenties I was working in a very dark industry, part of the military, and making choices that only ended up hurting me. I was also in a few car accidents, made some financial mistakes, and house hopping. I constantly felt trapped or like I was running from something. I was always forced to do things, or told I couldn’t do something. I felt like I was hiding part of me, I was wearing different masks for different people, and I could never be myself. Everything was a secret.
The only time I felt freedom or stability was when I was creating something. That is when I started writing, I wrote poetry, and I realized that my poems became extremely visual, so when I was able to. I got a hold of a camera, and my stories started to come to life. That process began to restore my hope in myself, dreams, and the world. God has a funny way of revealing himself to us before we come to truly know Him. Art has saved my life in so many ways, and without the stories, people, and even endings that God walked through with me, I would not be the creative or the person that I am pushing to be now everyday. I want the world to see the Light in my work and the hope of restoration. I want to speak to the child in all of us, who might be afraid to start over, to dream, or to believe in something greater than themselves. I want to speak to the Asian community and Asian adoptees like me who might feel like their voices don’t matter because I’ve been there too. I still fight everyday to work past those fears, believe in myself, and the dreams I have. I want my story to be an example of Hope. Hope for new beginnings, and the promise of God’s healing in my story. Even though I’m starting over again, there’s a new dawn coming, a new story being written, and new chapters to explore.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the lake and the beaches in Chicago. Whenever I’m able to, I run to the beach It’s where I feel the most free and at peace. All of the food in Chicago is hard to miss, I’m a big fan of Boba tea so I would recommend Joyee in Chinatown, or Uni Uni on Argyle in Uptown. There’s also lots of street art, and museums to check out in Chicago, I haven’t been to many due to the pandemic but I plan to soon, and I recommend them all!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to thank God, my life has been nothing but adventure, trial, heartbreak and triumph. I’m grateful for the perspective my faith gives me. It has allowed me to see the beauty, and the light in everything, especially the hardest things. I also want to thank every single person who has been part of my journey so far, even if some of those chapters ended. I like to look at everything as a page in a book. We are all characters in different peoples lives, and our impact matters. The smallest things make a huge difference, and I like to look at even the worst chapters as lessons, memories, and with gratitude. Every person I’ve ever worked with or I’ve taken a photo of, or who has been part of my life has always been part of a greater story. I have nothing but gratitude for the story that has been written so far.
Instagram: in process of rebranding
Other: I’m in the process of a rebrand, and plan to have a new website and instagram soon. you’ll be able to follow more of my journey, and my new art.