A fine art photographer focuses her lens on an overlooked minority with the help of crowd sourcing.
New York, NY Feb. 1, 2012- Ijeoma D. Iheanacho is a fine art photographer focused on telling the stories that are constantly overlooked, the stories that are brushed under the rug or politely stepped over. Her latest project, the reImagining, is a large scale photography installation focused on allowing 100 “ordinary” women of African descent to express the identities they choose to present to the world. She is reaching out to that world to help her fund the project.
With the current economic conditions making securing fine art funding nearly impossible for the unconnected, she is turning to kickstarter.com to ask all the “ordinary” people of the world to help her realize the project. She is trying to raise the funds to allow her to create the 300 gallery quality portraits of the women, and she is giving her potential kickstarter backers only 60 days to make it happen. The campaign launched February 1st and will run until March 31st. If the funding goal is not reached by then, all pledges are returned and the project goes unfunded.
But why the reImagining and why kickstarter.com? “The only thing worse than being misrepresented in your culture, is to be disappeared from it. Now imagine having to vacillate between the two. This is what most Black women have to live with every day. This project was borne out of the frustration of not seeing myself, and all the other women of African descent in my life, accurately depicted in mainstream media. I have been creating art for over a decade in the art mecca of the world, so I decided to pick up my camera and do something about it. Then 2011 happened. The global coming together. People deciding that if they stand together, they can amplify their voices - literally! To me kickstarter is not just funding, but also community building.”
The reImagining is a project focused on community building. Creating a gallery exhibition is just the first step in Iheanacho’s plans for the project. After debuting the project in New York City, she plans to create a traveling exhibition that will allow her to partner with non-profit organizations to bring the arts to underrepresented communities. Upon completion of the tour, an exhibition catalogue will be created to allow a wider array of people to experience the work as well as be used in a wide variety of educational settings. Finally, she will launch a dedicated website that creates a forum to allow a wider array of people to interact with the project and build communities that bring real solutions to the issues raised in the project. Iheanacho plans to even use the production of this project as a teaching moment. During the photography sessions she will arrange studio visits with organizations that work with young at risk girls to begin teaching them the important lessons of self-esteem and self-determination.
But to create the project she still needs the help crowd funding can provide. “I am raising funds to cover the costs of studio rental, preproduction, lighting, hair and make up, props and wardrobe, and postproduction. All on a very large scale. Each woman will be have portraits made of the progression of her reclamation of her personal identity. The first portrait will represent the stereotype she feels is placed on her, the next will show the person she feels she really is, and the final will show the person she wishes to present to the world. So doing that math - that is 100 women, photographed three times, for a total of 300 gallery quality portraits. That is where I need the help of the kickstarter backers.” Iheanacho has decided to thank her kickstarter backers with rewards including producing a limited edition set of prints that will never be reproduced again.
To learn more and to donate to the project, readers can visit the official kickstarter campaign at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2065012881/the-reimagining-photographing-the-unheard.
About Ijeoma D. Iheanacho:
Ijeoma D. Iheanacho is a fine art photographer that uses her training as an architect to create photographic installations that are designed to arrest the body while the eye is focused on the photography, thus intensifying the viewing experience. She has been exhibited nationally and throughout New York City. Her images have been used in the independent film Afropunk, as well as in a four part photo series for the Afropunk.com website. Her early series, Cloth, has been collected by the Photographs and Prints Collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and selected for exhibition as a finalist for the CurateNYC 2011 exhibition at Rush Art Gallery.