(Courtesy of Liz Montgomery)
Eight Women Armed with Cameras
by Jonathan Rodgers and Marcie Crim
For the past month, eight women have explored their lives in a new way.
The women, all survivors of violence, were taking part in the state-wide festival, Until the Violence Stops Kentucky, which is designed to bring the issue of violence against women into the public forum.
As part of the festival UTVS: Pieces of Me was created to give these women a crash course in photographic principles and set them loose on the city to share their lives and their struggle to piece those lives back together.
The class met every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for three weeks. It began with a rudimentary explanation of photography skills—composition, negative space, the rule of
thirds. Next, we gave each of the participants a camera and told them to shoot an entire roll on just one object. Some of the class participants chose a nearby playground to photograph; other’s focused on neighborhood children.
With the basics out of the way, we turned to lessons on portraiture and then we began to request that the women show the more intimate parts of their lives. At each turn, the class critiqued the photographs for quality, style and content, and the women were given instruction on how to improve their picture-taking skills.
The women grew more confident with each camera and began to turn into real photographers, seeking out inventive subject matter and finding artistically bold ways to tell their stories. One woman wanted to shoot photos of herself underwater in an effort to express rebirth so she purchased an underwater camera and created haunting images.
Another woman in the class kept seeking out bricks to photograph because she has spent, “A lifetime hitting brick walls.”
A photograph of a nameless woman resting on a toilet, smoking a cigarette grabs you—but it is the pattern of large purple bruises traveling up and down her legs that won’t let you go.
All of the photographs clearly allow you to see pieces of the women that are working towards a life free of abuse and addiction. The ages of the women range from very early twenties to mid-fifties. They come from all walks of life and have shared incredibly intimate moments so the rest of us can bear witness to a life on the inside of chaos fighting to get out.
Photographs from UTVS: Pieces of Me will be on display at the Carnegie Center beginning Friday August 24th, opening reception at 6pm.
Stop the Violence, Stop the Silence
Until the Violence Stops: Kentucky