Charlie smoked his first cigarette as a teenager in the Sixties while helping his grandfather work as a custodian at a synagogue. One of their duties was to fill cigarette cases on the dining room tables in the fellowship hall so worshipers could enjoy an after dinner smoke. Filching those cigarettes was dangerous and exciting. Fast-forward thirty years and Charlie is still smoking, though not in the public space.

Smokers have become social refugees banished to windy corners and private living rooms. I am interested in the idea that the nation has become so disgusted with this habit that we have tried to legislate smokers out of existence.

Deliver Me is a nonjudgmental look at this group of Americans. Much of my previous work has centered around the struggle to remain an individual in an increasingly generic looking world. In a perverse way I almost admire people who smoke in the face of social condemnation. Though there is no doubt that smoking is deadly, I see some smokers as fierce individuals as well as people coping with an addiction.

This project explores a diverse group of Americans united by a habit.

— Laura Noel