When Corinne Cobabe Rushing met a 92-year-old man named Noble Smith at a wine festival in early 2016, she had no idea how important her conversation with him would be.
The elderly gentleman shared with her his five wisdoms about life.
“I wrote them down, took a picture of him and posted it on Instagram,” Rushing said. “Then I thought ‘That’s kind of cool, maybe I should start asking people about their five rules of life.’ That’s how it started.”
Fast forward three and a half years. The Manhattan Beach artist and photographer has turned the idea of sharing people’s personal philosophies into an ongoing series called Five Wisdoms Project.
She just released the project’s first namesake book, which is available at 5wisdomsproject.com, to accompany a growing presence for the Instagram account @5wisdomsproject.
Rushing has also created an art installation—where she also sells the book—featuring 12 of her portraits and their accompanying stories at Suite Six Gallery at 350 N. Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. The gallery is open to the public through August 3. She will also be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. June 29 at the gallery to sign copies of the book.
The goal of the project, she said, is to educate and inspire through the wisdom of the collective human experience.
“We’re bombarded with bad news all the time,” she explained. “It’s really just to spread positivity and inspiration into the world. Everybody has an interesting story and wisdom to share.”
Rushing said one of the most important aspects of her work is that it gives people an opportunity to discuss why their particular rules are so important to them.
One young man featured in her collection, Ryan, suffered a seemingly random cardiac arrest in his thirties that doctors predicted he would never recover from, if he survived at all.
“Not only did he survive, he’s thriving,” Rushing said. “His wisdoms are particularly poignant and inspirational when you know his story.”
Ryan’s wisdoms include: persevere and whatever makes you different is your secret super power.
Another subject in Rushing’s book, Matthew, overcame bullying for his appearance and sexual orientation to become a dancer, actor, singer and musician.
His wisdoms include: find and use your voice unapologetically and view yourself with kindness, compassion and love.
“I was just so touched by his story and how far he’s come,” Rushing noted. “I think interviewing Matthew impacted both of us personally. He said that it brought back a part of him that he had lost.”
She said the shared impact upon her subjects as well as herself is an unexpected outcome of the project, but one that will keep her coming back for more.
“Storytelling has been around since probably the birth of humanity,” she said. “I think it helps people to see or learn by example.”
Rushing is planning to begin future installations of the 5 Wisdoms Project as soon as possible, with her next focus being to share women’s stories.
As for the man who jumpstarted the concept for Rushing: Smith passed away last year but left behind a legacy in her collection, including his five wisdoms: keep your appointments, pay attention, be truthful, ask for what you want and be grateful.