For the past 10 months, Dior Vargas has been collecting self-portraits from people of color dealing with mental illness around the country on her website; so far, she has 61 images.
Vargas started this project to challenge people of color to speak out and unburden themselves of the shame and secrecy of living with a mental illness, and to change the way people of color with mental illnesses are represented. It’s important to humanize mental illness and put faces to the subject.
People have written Vargas telling her how meaningful the project has been for them and how crucial this work is. She’s even received feedback from Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York.
The next phase of this project will be to work with a photographer to take 50 professional, high resolution photos in a studio space. Vargas also plans on conducting interviews with the participants to add context to the photos.
These photos will be assets she can use in the future for different projects such as gallery exhibits and print books based on different themes. These future projects will help get the images back into the communities that need them even if they don’t have internet access.
These images would have a place on Vargas’ website as well as the previously submitted photos which will remain open for people to contribute.
In addition to compensating the photographer and getting studio space Vargas also wants to pay the participants an honorarium as well as give them the project poster as way of thanks.
The campaign’s goal is $6,000 and ends in 7 days.