States of Union is a national social action campaign that addresses inequality in civil rights – specifically, in the rights afforded to gay and lesbian individuals. The aim of this photographic project is twofold. First, to create positive role models for the gay and lesbian community. Second, to challenge those who continue to malign the notion of gay and lesbian families/marriages by forcing critics to confront an image that calls into question any preconceived notion of how such relationships actually appear.
Through gesture, color scheme, background and lighting, the photographs that comprise States of Union are loosely based on classical paintings. By drawing upon classical images, the tropes used to promote heterosexual family units are re-appropriated in order to serve a more expanded view of family. Consequently, the viewer may recognize something familiar about the image and experience a kinship with families that might otherwise look and feel unrecognizable.
States of Union is a multidimensional project which aims to photograph at least 500 gay and lesbian couples and families from across the United States. Each individual photograph will be used in one of two ways: as “fine art” for exhibitions or as a social action campaign.
Those photographs selected for the “fine art” will be part of a traveling exhibition that will tour the small towns and big cities of our country going to galleries, museums, schools and colleges and will be presented alongside educational lectures and programs designed to promote equal rights.
The social action campaign will use the other half of the photographs on billboards, buses, commercials and in print. Partnering up with other organizations that belive in equality for all people.
The value of States of Union lies in its ability to reach people from various backgrounds on a personal level, sending a political message in a seemingly non-political way. Whereas other projects that have offered images of gay and lesbian families in recent years have done so through snap shots, the images that comprise States of Union are far more formal and significantly more grand in scale. The size, format and formality allow for a replication of traditional portraiture – homage to the glorification of the family or an individual that the history of portraiture established.
The more the world is permeated with images of gay and lesbian couples and families, the harder it will be for same-sex relationships to be considered “other.” The more impact these images have, the better for our cause. The opportunity to see oneself – to have a visual representation of the possibility of what one might become – is a privilege long denied to gay and lesbian individuals. This is a lack that States of Union seeks to remedy.
To learn more about the project go to:WWW.STATESOFUNION.COM