I am humbled to share that a three photo set from my series, 'Tara: Femininity and Strength' were selected to be a part of Women Photojournalists of Washington's (WPOW) annual juried exhibition. It is an honor to show with the other participants, who have won World Press Photo awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and other awards for their stirring photojournalism. Many thanks to the judges: Elizabeth Krist, Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic; Akili Ramsess, Photojournalist, Multimedia Producer and Consultant, Eye of Ramsess Media; and Michael Wichita, Director of Photography, AARP Media.
There will be an opening of the show at Fathom Gallery, 1333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC on November 13th from 6:30-10:30pm as part of FotoWeekDC. It will also show at the Look3 photography festival in June 2015 and then go on tour to universities nationally. You can read the announcement HERE.
About the Project
This exhibition is particularly special to me because of the subject of my project that was selected. I documented my friend Tara Papanicolas' battle with uterine cancer and the associated struggles with personal identity, gender, and sexuality over the last year. A professional stylist by trade, Tara worked through what being 'feminine' meant as surgery and chemotherapy robbed her of long hair and a uterus, two physical identifiers that society assigns to being female. After buying a wig and not wearing it, she used style to assert her femininity and strength - more often than not she wore lipstick during chemo and relished in styling her bald head with turbans and wild hats. Her style became an emblem of her seemingly unwavering personal strength and courage.
I would like to thank Tara for her strength and openness throughout the project. She generously allowed me to accompany her to her appointments, transfusions, and surgeries, as well as trips to the hair salon to first cut and then shear her long hair, and finally to wig shops in an attempt to find a proxy for her lost hair. We laughed, cried, hugged, critiqued fashion magazines from a hospital bed. I tucked her in with extra blankets when she got cold during chemo and in return she taught me how stubbornness and bravery can be life saving when paired with positivity. I was inspired every second we spent together.
You can view the whole project HERE.
With chemo and radiation behind her now, Tara's cancer is in remission. Her hair is a spunky pixie cut and she is traveling the world, opening a vintage shop, and spending time with her nephew.