ILLNESS & IDENTITY
“Illness & Identity” was born out of a desire to better understand the complex ways chronic illness influences all aspects of identity. As we work to raise awareness around chronic illness and invisible disability, we must also work to understand how these experiences affect people as a whole. This project offers a look into the lives of five individuals living with different chronic illnesses and reveals the ways in which their diagnoses may or may not intersect with other aspects of their identities and lives.
As an entry to a more intimate understanding of each person, we asked to meet the individuals featured in this project in spaces of their own. We were welcomed into homes, meditative places, sites of mourning, and of bliss. Each time, we walked away astounded by the vulnerability, tenacity, and true strength each person shared. We were so taken-a-back that we sometimes wondered: what have we done to elicit these kinds of responses? Why aren’t all conversations so meaningful? What became clear was that we had done something very simple that encouraged this open and honest communication. We listened. We engaged.
Marginalized communities, such as the chronic illness community, are often cut out of conversations or simply never given the space or platform on which they can “break their silences.” We do not often hear stories like these because we don’t actively listen. We don’t engage.
This is not a particularly silent group. All five are activists in their own ways, with their own platforms in tow. Jess, Joseph, Jobi, Ericka and Angela are all sharing their stories at many intersections of their lives, stories not just about their illnesses but also about their journeys as individuals. Even by sharing with us here, their words have and will create a movement.
Our meetings with them took place over the last eight months, a time where there was and remains a lot of uncertainty, anger, and weariness in this country – a lot of chaos and chatter in the world. Many of us have felt the urgency to be active, to make changes, to heal, but don’t know how or where to do so.
Our hope is that you are able to draw a connection to the stories of these amazing people through their own words, and that you leave inspired to break through your own silences. Most importantly, we hope that you are encouraged to practice active engagement with the communities around you; uplift the lives of others and accept the bounty it reveals.
'Illness & Identity' Exhibition Showings:
Solo Exhibition, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington Delaware, November 1- 30th, 2017
Solo Exhibition, City Lore Gallery, New York, NY, June 2-30th, 2017