As an actor, Mike Spitz (MSW ’99) strived to become the character; as a film director he coaxed the character out of his actors; but as a photographer, he wants you to see the subjects as people: not just as characters. Spitz originally attended NYU for theatre and then moved to Chicago to pursue a career in acting. While in Chicago, Spitz enrolled at Loyola and earned his MSW in 1999. Today, this Los Angeles-based therapist/artist uses his love of photography and clinical training as a social worker to show the faces and humanity of the mentally ill. Spitz credits his experience working with the mentally ill population and a strong social consciousness for leading him into this project. If you’re interested in viewing Spitz’s work online, visit www.mikespitz.com and www.f9gallery.com.
What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?
That compassion for others–like the people we work with as therapists speech–can take time to develop, grow, and can be nurtured.
If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?
More photo and literature classes.
Why did you decide to become a social worker?
As a teenager, I always worked with challenged people. I like kids and feel that I can help them. Also being a therapist and working in psychology goes well together with film, drama, and photography, which also explore people’s lives.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
Face to face interaction with my patients–exploring their worlds and perspectives–and when they have a breakthrough or self-discovery. Using play and art therapy is also exciting.
What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Do, don’t think. When I as 14 or 15, my boss at a shoe store told me this because I was thinking too much as I was counting the change at the cash register. I hated him, but he was right. I don’t always follow it, but when I do, I get good results.
What (or who) inspires you?
Bob Dylan, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, John Fante, George Harrison, John Lennon
If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?
Either Paris in the 1930′s, living the Bohemian life as a photographer, filmmaker, or writer, OR during Shakespeare’s times far away in London or the English countryside, like the Cotswolds.
Describe your perfect day.
Wake up early, go out to breakfast with my girlfriend, go to a farmers market, take a drive into the mountains or along the Pacific Coast, have lunch, coffee, dinner, take pictures, stay in a cozy lodge at night with a fireplace. Or, walk around Paris. I’m a romantic.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
Greek Islands–it’s out in the ocean, isolated, winding streets, people with character and with great faces. And exotic locations where I can take black and white photos, eat great food, plenty of antiquity, mystery, romance.
Describe yourself in three words. I am…
Loyal, creative, patient
Who would you want to be for a day?
A young Bob Dylan
Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?