UnDifferent is a series of portraits that takes inspiration from a getting-to-know-you activity that I would give to my classes at the start of the semester. It is also loosely influenced by the periodic table of elements (an unavoidable ‘hazard’ of being a chemist). As with my previous personal projects, the goal is not only to challenge myself to interact with people, but to create pictures that will put the subjects in an honest, yet flattering light.
The activity that I spoke of required students to think of 3 things that they considered to be unique to their person, and to then share it with the class. It could run the gamut of a defining trait that they were proud of to an odd quirk that only those closest to them knew about. My initial goal was to not only have them introduce themselves to each other, but to encourage them to speak in front of the class. As a teacher, I hoped that this initiation of sorts made it easier for students to participate during the
more boring less colorful discussions later on. However, I found out soon enough that what I got was so much more.
The outpouring of information that came from the students as they shared freely of themselves was surprising, even those who I perceived as shy and reserved readily opened up. It was like social networking, but without a computer monitor to conveniently hide behind. Where the activity started out as a means for the students to celebrate their ‘uniqueness’; it also helped them realize that they were not as different as they initially thought that they were. I mean, what would be better than being able to proudly wave your I-am-weird flag? Well, probably the fact that you could happily wave it with other people of the same persuasion.
UnDifferent is essentially about understanding and accepting our differences. It is the realization that even though we appear to be different, we are all made of the same fundamental substance. The way we bind and bond with the vast sea of humanity is what ultimately makes us unique.
*The subjects that I worked with in creating this series will each be featured in a separate post. In these posts, I will be selecting three of their pictures to match the three things that they shared with me about themselves. More to come…