"I am . . ."
New York City is home to over three million people who were born outside of the United States. Many of these individuals are referred to pegoratively as "aliens," "illegals," or "undocumented" - regardless of their actual immigation status. These labels, among other things, strip them of their humanity.
The Jacob Riis Settlement House in Long Island City, New York, offers free English language classes in a classroom setting to those for whom English is a second language. While an artist-in-residence with the Josephine Herrick Project's "F-Stop Project" in 2019, I worked with Riis staff to teach English language learners how to use photography to advocate for change.
With a simple black backdrop and some lights, I set up a photographic portrait studio in a corner of the gymnasium at the Riis. We offered free portraits to all students attending the English language classes, asking all those who participated to set forth in writing how they would like to be seen.
g Island City, New York. Home to over 5,000 people, the Queensbridge Houses are the largest public housing project in the nation.
In October 2019, I curated a community-wide exhibition of over 130 large-scale vinyl photographic murals that were hung through the Queensbridge Houses and neighboring Queensbridge Park. Entitled "We Are Queensbridge," the exhibition enabled the community to project an image of itself free from the stereotypes that often define public housing project residents.