The Face to Face: Uncommon Commonalities Project began as a class project. We were charged with developing a concept of our own and capturing images that supported the concept. I chose to focus on mental illness and its stigma because as a sufferer, I know too well how society often views the mentally ill.
I began with a simple goal: To illustrate photographically that there is no one look or characteristic that defines mental illness, even across diagnoses. I approached a local mental health program about the concept and once the proper permissions were in place, went about capturing over 400 images of beautiful souls. The final set of images was shown to various groups of students with the challenge to identify the common element across the subjects. The final image in the series is a self-portrait of me. I gave the audience a chance to guess once more and then revealed that each subject has a mental illness.
Mental illness is an equal opportunity thief. It cuts across socioeconomic, educational levels and so much more. One in four persons will develop a mental illness in his or her lifetime.
It is time to meet Face to Face.