I've always been passionate about community involvement and networking and wanted a place to talk about issues of racism and racial justice. I joined Kalamazoo4Justice late last year and found a committed group of activists looking for similar outlets.
"Kalamazoo 4 Justice (K4J) seeks to change the social and political landscape through community engagement, public dialogue, and direct action regarding all forms of oppression, exploitation, and injustice, as they intersect with racism, both locally and nationally."
While we had the mission statement above, I wanted to explore a visual elaboration of why people had joined K4J. This led to my first series of portraits. Thanks to my friend Caitlin McWethy Bailey, who made our awesome K4J logo, I was able to incorporate this into the portraits.
At first I was frustrated by the sometimes blurry quality of the portraits, which I think was part a lens malfunction and part my inexperience with shooting under florescent lighting, but as the project continued, I learned to let go of my expectations for what the project should be and appreciate what it was. This is a lesson that comes around over and over again with grassroots organizing. Things emerge organically and at some point take on a life of their own.
I chose to make the photos black and white in part to simplify distracting elements, but also to echo the aesthetic of mug shot photos--to speak back to part of the system we are fighting against. I hope you enjoy the series!
To see more of my projects before they appear on this blog, please follow me on twitter @KaitlinLaMoine
Please also check out my facebook page and website.