The Golden Rule
“The Golden Rule “ is a mixed media photography project by Jerimiah Smith. From a young age many children worldwide are taught The Golden Rule, which simply states that we “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” The fact that this maxim is repeated throughout many cultures and religions shows that as humans, the moral compass that guides us is the same in many respects. Despite different languages and traditions, we see this similar principle repeated in sacred texts worldwide. Considering this simple truth, Jerimiah aims to show how the Golden Rule is a good starting point for beginning the process of healing years of trauma.
Seeing the protests breakout like wildfires across the nation following the murder of George Floyd, like many white Americans Jerimiah felt a call to action even though he wasn’t exactly sure where to start. Following his instinct, Jerimiah decided that using his camera was the best way he could be useful in the moment. Smith’s tools include a 25 year old 35mm film camera and a 35 year old medium format camera. Black & White Film seemed to be a good choice for this project because of the raw emotion it invokes while manual cameras make the photographer slow down and take everything in. Jumping in the fray, Smith began by making connections with people in the community, asking questions, holding space for deep conversations, and listening. With photographs and audio conversations recorded with his cell phone Jerimiah asked tough questions that maybe he’s not even ready to hear the answers to.
After developing the photographs, Smith plans to take his printed portraits to the streets of Birmingham, Alabama. He then will adhere his photographs in a large-scale format to businesses struck by the riots of May 31st to create positivity and raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter Movement. Next to each portrait there will be a QR Code to hear that individual’s story and conversation with Smith. For this project, Jerimiah hopes to uplift people of color’s voices through active listening, honest portraits, and meaningful conversations. By listening and sharing those voices with the public, we can see that like the ideas of the Golden Rule, we are more similar in our struggles, hopes and fears than we are different.