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Project statement

In the mid-1980’s I was fortunate to have been provided access to photograph children (ranging from toddler to near adult) who had been temporarily placed in an emergency shelter*. The stay for some lasted only a few days though most were there for months. A few had been placed due to parenting, housing, or other issues beyond their control. Many had behavioral problems while others were psychologically/emotionally scarred.

Because the children had very little control over most aspects of their lives my goal was to give them free reign of the studio environment and then simply take their portrait. Each had several choices to make which would reflect their self-image/expression at a particular point and place in time. The first of these choices was to choose from one of three backdrop colors (red, yellow, blue). Next, the children chose paint colors and decided what they wanted to create on their “canvas”. There were no restrictions or influences in any of these areas. Finally, the children were free to express themselves in any manner they desired, including clothing, poses and body language. The only imprint I made was with lighting.

Through these images I hope to enlighten viewers to certain social and psychological concerns of the institutionalized child. Above all, I wish to present them with dignity.

*I later learned that my biological siblings had spent time in this same emergency shelter years earlier. I think this project was not a coincidence.