illness and identity


Illness and identity: in partnership with Suffering the Silence

But you don’t look sick.” It’s a phrase that members of the chronic illness and invisible disability communities hear all too often, and it speaks to the lack of understanding so many of us have about the day-to-day lives of the millions of people affected by these conditions.

Illness & Identity works to explore the relationships between the experience of disease or mental illness, and other aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, and age. At the same time, it works to amplify the invisibility of these conditions and the need for society at large to engage in patient stories if they want to understand the complexity of the living experience of chronic illness and invisible difference.

This project would be incomplete if the stories stood alone without their accompanying photos, or vice- a-versa; we might not understand the pain beneath Jess’ smile until we hear about her past in her own words, or understand the power in Ericka’s statements until we see her posed topless. The interplay of words and photo in this project helps to bring us closer to the human experiences presented.

Each subject is their own storyteller here, and that is integral to the mission of the work. Illness & Identityworks to break the silence and stigma that this community faces every day. Using words and text to elevate the voices of our participants is vitally important to the core mission of the project itself. We work to create spaces where people can tell their own stories, even if we might be behind the camera.


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