The Rainbow House Family
These photos were taken at "Rainbow House", a center that serves mothers and their children suffering from drug abuse and/or incarceration. I have been volunteering for this center for the past three summers and have built quite a friendship with the families there; however, it was not always that way. My first time meeting these people, I felt very distant from them because of our drastically different backgrounds. Nevertheless, as I worked with the mothers and the children more and more, I began to realize how these families were not much different from myself.
Formerly incarcerated people, families with incarcerated fathers, or drug addicts, these were the labels that I was scared of, and I was prejudiced towards them, which is common in our society. At first glance, these families look like a normal family, and some even appear happier than most. They are just like us, and at times, they are better off as they find the smallest occasions to laugh together and find happiness.
These mothers have survived through hardships that many others struggle through. They are now looking for a way to get through life and raise their children as single parents. This inspired the second series of photos. I had a great opportunity to collaborate with a fellow student from a different school. She wanted to make dresses for the mothers and daughters, which gave me another opportunity to have a photoshoot with them again.
This photography project with Rainbow House is titled, "Empower", because the strength of these families empower me as a photographer. The mothers have been through more than I can imagine; however, what gave them the drive to endure through the hardships was their love for their family. These families empower me.
In Catholicism Virgin Mary is an important figure since she gave birth to Jesus, which Catholics give her a large amount of credit for giving birth to their God figure. This figurine of the Virgin Mary in the photo is a nightlight that was a gift from my mom to my grandmother and later on was gifted to me before my grandmother passed. The picture is subjected to conveying the beauty of motherhood. Even though the picture as a whole may be beautiful, not every part of it is beautiful, such as the dried up and dead petals. Motherhood is such a valuable part of life, but not every part of It is celebrated due to the labor and time it consumes out of a woman’s life. Without the sacrifice of mothers, the world we live in right now would not have been possible. Also, within the photo, the Virgin Mary figure is not the object in total focus and is a bit in the background. This exemplifies how mothers do their work not as the main characters in our lives, but as immense support, just as how the figure is still a large portion of the photo. Without the figure, the photo would not have the same beauty as it has right now, just as our lives would not have its value as we do now without motherhood and our mother figures.
My Definition of Masculinity
Masculinity: qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men.
The modern definition of qualities or attributes of men has been constantly debated. Personally, I believe there is no definite standard of masculinity. In the Bible, it says, as the creations of God, we are all created equal. Therefore, however, any of us are made, we are all equal. This work exemplifies how no characteristic of any man decides who is considered a better man than the other.
As a man, sometimes it is hard to be myself at times when certain characteristics of myself are not considered “masculine”. This can be a huge detriment to the male population themselves, as a lot of them try to emphasize being tough and “manly” and consider any other an outcast.
In this artwork, I wanted to show how a man can wear makeup and take care of his appearance in any way that he wants. Even though it may not be the “normal” way a man takes care of themselves as seen in society, we can still see beauty and how it is not a wrong or bizarre thing at all. The work shows how a perfect man is a man who feels comfortable in his own skin and his God-given natural qualities and attributes.
The artwork was censored by the school administration when displayed for the school art show. When I heard about the censorship, I wanted to take it as an opportunity, since the artwork is about censorship in high school. A page with the words, "Art Work Censored" on a page as the same size as the actual artwork was displayed with the artist's statement. This got more attention from the student body and faculty than usual, prompting them to take the time to actually read the artist statement and discuss with others and myself about the artwork and issue. The display intrigued people with the irony and its method of delivery of the message.
As high school is one of the last stages teens go through before independence, I believe it should be a place to start practicing voicing personal opinions. However, at times, high schools censor the voices of their students because of the risk of offending someone, most commonly the parents.
As a student attending a private Christian high school, I found that there were many topics not discussed within the school, mostly things that are considered as sensitive issues that may cause arguments. I believe this suppresses independent thinkers and destroys the discussion.
This aspect of a private Christian high school was especially evident inside the Orange Lutheran High School’s sex education curriculum. A set sex education curriculum was nonexistent, as the only facts available were about STDs and abstinence in our mandatory health class and some psychology-relatedinformation in our optional Psychology classes. However, as a Christian, I believe, as being imperfect humans, we should be taught explicitly how to prevent and protect us from making irreversible mistakes. Therefore, the most important aspects of sex education of protection and expression were extinct, which led to the prevention of discussion around the school.
My artwork has nine Orange Lutheran students having their eyes, mouth, or ears covered by another person’s hand, which shows how information is censored not by choice, but rather by an outside force. These students’ faces are surrounded by cutup condom wrappers, which represents the nonexistent sex education and the almost uselessness of the information we are taught. The gold condom wrappers around the faces of the students seem like gold leaves from a distance, which are used in a lot of artwork for idols, exemplifying the importance of our students.