WOMAN SIGNIFIES, is an ongoing collaboration with Chicago Public High Schools’ students as extracurricular programming to support schools with depleting arts education. I started photographing at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Douglas, a school that closed in the Spring of 2019 and have continued the collaboration with Michele Clark Academic Magnet High School students in Austin. The project focuses on gender perceptions and how photography can present gender relative to context. A majority of young women today believe that gender does not define us the way it has in the past and we no longer feel pressure to conform to traditional gender roles or behaviors. As an artist my intention is to preserve the student’s autonomy while underlining their self-discovery and their strengths. The final photographs are spontaneous and collaborative meditation; their aim is to situate the sitter within their own psychologies. We work together on the pose and location in order to arrive together at the final image. Each photograph resonates with the tension between the woman as student, and woman as an individual, a woman as she is within her community, and a woman as she is seen through the eyes of the audience.
Our collaborations revolve around discussions: how they would like to be seen and what they would like the photograph to feel like. The language of photography is explained and communicated. Through the introduction of visual representations I hope to equip and empower students with an understanding of the limitations and possibilities of being represented today.
This project is made possible by CPS Lives, a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization that pairs Chicago artists, designers, thinkers and makers with a Chicago Public School during the academic year to collaborate on a project.