About the author

Walden Davis in Istanbul

Walden Davis in Istanbul

Walden Davis was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At an early age it was quite obvious to his parents that building was his passion. At his Montessori school in Massachusetts, where alternative learning was encouraged, Walden spent all day–for months and years–simply playing with wooden blocks, designing buildings, bridges and cities.

in 2001 Walden moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where he entered second grade at Sligo Creek Elementary School in the public school’s French immersion program. At the end of elementary school, Walden wanted to pursue his love of languages.  He was accepted to enter an international IB school in Northwest DC called Washington International School (WIS). Here Walden continued his study of French, and commenced Spanish.

Walden stayed at WIS until the 8th grade when he then moved to Salzburg, Austria. His stepfather, Stephen Salyer runs an international organization called the Salzburg Global Seminar. In the Seminar, Mr. Salyer and over 27,000 fellows strive for global peace and prosperity by coming together in seminars where the participants seek  global solutions to global problems. Here Walden was even further immersed in an international milieu–not only at the Seminar, but also by going to a German-speaking Austrian public school, Bundes Gymnasium Nonntal (BGN). Walden was once again thrust into an immersion school, forced to sink or swim, as he did not speak any German.

By the end of 2008, Walden had traveled to 14% of the world, crossing many, many borders. For the 2009 scholar year Walden returned to Maryland and continued his education at WIS.

During 9th grade, Walden and his classmates learned about the WIS Upper School Personal Project, a project where students are asked to combine aspects of things they love, or desire to learn and merge them with the five core areas of interaction:

  1. Approaches to Learning,
  2. Community and Service,
  3. Homo Faber,
  4. Enviroments, and
  5. Health and Social.
W at Blue Mosque 1

Davis photographing inside Istanbul's imperial Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I--also known as "The Blue Mosque" for the "blue" quality of light reflected from the famed Iznik tiles covering the interior of the building.

Walden decided to bring together his early and continuing interest in building, his fascination with the global environment, and a new-found interest, photography.

His plan was to capitalize on a trip that he and his mother and sister would make to Istanbul that spring of 2009. His idea was to photograph the inside of one of the Islam’s most famous mosques, Hagia Sophia, and build a replica of it, by pasting the photos on the inside of a scale-model replica. The thought was that such a mosaic of photographs would give viewers the sensation that they were inside the mosque–and they could thus appreciate one of the world’s most beautiful buildings from over 6000 miles away.

The reality of what transpired, however, was really quite different….


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