Carry the Ocean
The photogram is a part of my series Carry the Ocean. Carry the Ocean is the project focusing on Ethiopian immigrants’ communities in Atlanta. It is an exploration into culture, difference, communication and shared immigration experience, through black and white portraiture and photograms of objects.
In the past three years, I photographed about 20 Ethiopian families on black and white film. During each photo sessions, I talked with people I was photographing and had the opportunity to learn about Ethiopian culture. Meanwhile, we share understanding of being immigrants in the United States.
The resulting images honor this culture through a formal portraiture in which the sitters wear traditional textiles and dress. Additionally, I created photograms of various objects relating to their daily lives, such as drums, spice bowls, religious books or pitchers. The images are sleek icon, void of decoration and ornament.
While I am celebrating a culture outside of my own, I also find a parallel in my experience as an immigrant to the United States. Through this shared experience, I was able to find common ground between myself and a culture in which I was an outsider. I see communication, respect and acceptance as central to this project: my acceptance by the families, and the communication with my subjects as well with my viewer through photographs.