Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Art. Speaks. Volumes.

I never classified myself as an artist and I never thought that I would do something that someone else would classify as art. Amazingly, the opportunity arose for me to apply for the Leeway Foundation Art and Change grant and I said to myself, "I love art. I live and breathe it. I am passionate about changing this world in some way--anyway. I love photography. I love poetry. I love to tell the stories of the disenfranchised. Apply." I was introduced to the Leeway Foundation by one of my students. He knows that I am extremely passionate about helping others and figured this was an opportunity for me to step out on faith. To him I am abundantly thankful. His assurance in me and my ability is amazing and continues to restore my faith.

My project is called A voice that bears a likeness to my soul. It is a photographic and poetic journey into the lives of LGBTQ homeless youth in Philadelphia. Voice is more than just some images and some words, it is a declaration that each and everyone of us is HERE and that we all count for something, regardless of our personal scales of "worth."

The question of why was asked of me: I chose this particular topic because I know of youth who were discarded like rag dolls to live on the streets because of their sexuality. The stories vary--the end result is still the same. "According to one study, 50 percent of gay teens experienced a negative reaction from their parents when they came out and 26 percent were kicked out of their homes" (Remafedi, 79).

How many of these children live in Philadelphia? How many of them are attempting to be free of this form of oppression? How many want to be heard? How many of us will listen?

In the beginning I thought of how difficult this year has been; my father passed away and how he was passionate about photography and how he invested so much time into my dreams and into making me be the best me.

The image above is where I was prior to the death of my father--so focused on what was in front of me that I couldn't see beyond one branch. I realize more than ever, that this life isn't just about me, but what I will do with its amazing beauty.

Cheers to an amazing moment in time...until later.

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