In the Presence of Women: Women in Shelter
My work addresses issues of race, gender, class and diversity. My primary focus is photographing people. I want my subjects to be seen in a natural relaxed atmosphere. I talk, joke and wait until their true selves emerge through their gestures and expressions before photographing them.
My project, In the Presence of Family: Brooklyn Portraits, 2002-2010, portrays how families are transformed through biracial adoption, LGBTQ parenting and intermarriage, and how relevant they are in an era that increasingly turns our most basic relationships into news bites or consumer transactions.
In 2012, I researched women’s homelessness and it’s relationship to mental illness. Widespread homelessness occurs due to the loss of low-cost housing through gentrification and the failure of policy-makers to create adequate community-based care for the mentally ill.
As a professional photographer and former public school art teacher, I began teaching these subjects to the women who reside in a shelter in Brooklyn, NY. This Mentally Ill Chemical Abuse shelter houses women who are in need of a therapeutic facility to provide temporary housing and comprehensive services. It enables mentally ill and often substance-abusing women to stabilize their condition and move toward permanent, supported housing. These services focus on re-entry into the community, minimizing the impact of homelessness.
In my photographs, these women are subjects calling on us, the observers, to consider our relationship with them and how our actions might play a role in allowing this destruction of the social safety net. What I do is portray these women, who we might look at as not like us, who we might not even notice, as having the same dreams and aspirations as everyone, even though they have been deemed mentally ill.