Updated: Jul 20
A portrait and a story. Be seen. Be heard.
That’s the essence of my #614BLM portrait project and fundraiser to highlight and benefit racial justice in Columbus and our nation.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in Minneapolis, I began a journey to create a series of portraits showing how Columbus is responding to and working through the current national protests. The photos are simple, straight-forward portraits coupled with a quote, a story, or a personal reaction.
The project is in part inspired by an art installation titled “Seeing Newnan” by photographer Mary Beth Meehan. Like Meehan’s project, I hope to use the power of the portrait to help viewers truly “see” the people in my portraits and to listen to their stories. There is strength in bearing witness to a specific person's experience.
Those joining the project might wear a favorite shirt with an important message or person on it, draw messages and symbols on themselves, pose with a sign or book, bring a photo of someone inspirational, sit with someone important, or anything else they want to share in support of Black Lives Matter. We might show love, anger, support, sadness, and every emotion in between. It is my goal to show all ages, young and old.
The goal of each photo and accompanying story is to show how each person is processing and responding to our country’s latest swell of support for Black Lives Matter. I am especially moved by the words spoken and written by each participant. As an English teacher, I have always known the power of stories. Now I think more people--white people, especially--are ready to listen to more stories. I want to play a part in broadening our country's conversation about race and equity.
In addition to creating the portraits for the project, I am asking participants to “donate what you can” for each portrait sitting. Donations will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative, a national organization directed by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy.
(If you’re interested in donating directly to the organization, you can donate here.)
As of July 20, 2020, the project has raised $1,015.00.
To view each entry in the project so far, please click the names below:
To join my project, please send me a private message on Facebook or Instagram (@aarontaylorphoto) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to tell your story next.