What is Searching for Humanity?

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  Artist statement:

“Searching for Humanity” is what I have come up with, visually, in an attempt to filter my experience of life. At first glance, I saw my work as shining light on inspirational people doing ‘good’ on the planet. At tenth glance, I admitted to myself that this project was a personal search for answers. I saw people doing things that made something inside me react. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. After a long time, I realized that they were being honest about their reaction to the world around them. And that I was struggling to do the same. I have questions that I ask myself about what my place in the world is, and I am curious about how conflicted and hurt I feel when I see people suffering. I ask why it almost feels like to function in the world means ignoring these feelings because it’s ‘too much’.

The physical work is a series of portraits of individuals who are confronting those things that we are all sort of ashamed of as a species. I don’t know that their methods or professions are ‘right’. I believe we all have biases or histories that push us in certain directions. I know that these are persons who are visible and it is easy to see their virtue (and flaws). I am also sensitive to the palette of my audience. But I see people who aren’t running from problems, but are battling them, in real time, not just at the movies in metaphorical stories between good and evil. The portraits are of Max Kenner, Diane Reeder, Carolyn Gomes, Nawal el Saadawi, Sanjit Roy, Tia Bete, Felipe Berrios, Elizabeth Scharpf and Julienne Ingabire, myself, a friend.

The world is a harsh place, because people are in pain. And the more people refuse to admit this the more that pain will come out, because it needs to be seen and resolved. But this has to be done on the individual level, first. We cannot face the problems of the world if we are not facing the conflict within ourselves. And to see this is to go to the places within ourselves that we don’t want to go, to embrace the full spectrum of our emotions as they arrive. To battle our monsters we must go through them. I feel that this is something that everyone knows. But there is a pressure to lie about, to deflect, to minimize certain things that aren’t spoken about except in really private moments, things that one erases from memory, that one denies denying. People who remind us of the conflict within ourselves, we try to erase too, instead of finding the answer within. We cannot fight darkness, without bringing it to light. The world seems to be getting more self-destructive, but it’s for a reason, because it’s the only way it seems that we can start being honest about our history.

I can’t fully explain it here, if ever. And everyone’s journey (and conclusions) is unique to him or her, but these are the reflections behind my work, and my work is one way in which I process them.

-Desi-Rae Campbell (Dec 2014)