So after a lot of thinking, I’ve decided that I want to expand the work that I’ve started with the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project.
For the past 10 months, I have been collecting self-portraits from people of color dealing with mental illness around the country on my website; so far, I have 61 amazing images. This project is a response to the media representation of mental illness which excludes people of color. So the next phase would be to commission a photographer to take photos in a studio space. That way we can have high resolution, professional photographs that do justice to this issue. Besides raising awareness, I want these photos to initiate a dialogue so that these experiences are normalized and people feel more comfortable to share their stories. This in turn can allow the prioritization of mental health in these communities. These photos can be used for various projects in the future: I would like to host gallery exhibits in communities where there is a large population of people of color so that these images can be viewed by those who otherwise might not have seen them. This would facilitate a gathering of individuals who want to start these conversations and take part in ending the stigma. I would also like to produce print books so it is a tangible object that people of color can share with one another. Having an object that people can have makes the images more intimate.
I’m still in the process of figuring things out but if you’re interested in following along with how the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project develops and evolves, you can sign up for my newsletter.