We would like to thank Valerie Berta Photography for the beautiful pictures taken of our festival. Please take a minute and check out her shots on her website here.
Valerie took the photos of the meet and greet with Roxxxy Andrews and our VIP guests. Those photos will be up on her site soon for purchase.
We were so happy to have Valerie on board with us this year. She has been working on a long time project here in Columbia by using photographs and personal narratives. The project hopes to help marginalized communities in Columbia be seen and recognized for what they are: intrinsic parts of who we are as a society and as humans. We felt that this went right along with our theme this year: WE ARE HUMAN.
More about Valerie’s Project
This is who we are
This project is a series of portraits of minority communities in Columbia, Missouri, from the African-American and the LBGTQ to the immigrant and refugee community. All of these communities share a history of oppression and under-
representation in our society, and and with the rise in intolerance, bigotry and racism after the election, each of these communities needs to be seen, accepted and celebrated in its own rights.
The portraits will taken against a neutral white, grey or black background in a studio setting, as a formal way of underlining our common humanity. I will also ask of each subject to submit a written statement (whose format can range from a poem to a song to a personal narrative) about who they are, framed within the sense of their belonging to one, or more, of these marginalized communities.
To date there are no established, organized and comprehensive records of the history of the African-American community in Columbia (photographs of old Black churches, photographs of community members, original documents and deeds, business records, artifacts, etc.) Only recently has the Blind Boone House been open to the public, and the erasure of the historic African-American neighborhood of Sharp End in the 60s remains largely ignored. Through the tireless eforts of Bill Thompson and others, work is finally under way to address that injustice. The African-American community is finally starting to be recognized as integral to Columbia’s identity and equal in rights, and this project aims to facilitate that movement by giving it a public visual record.
The LGBTQ community in Columbia, like LBGTQ communities across the nation, has largely been invisible until now. Yet in Columbia its members cure diseases, run dance schools, teach, and run homeless shelters, among other achievements. They are also who we are, our sisters, our brothers, our neighbors. Like the African-American community, they are part of the tapestry of who we are.
There is no documentation of the immigrant community in Columbia, and with President Trump’s aggressive policies of targeting undocumented immigrants and Muslim minorities, many have gone deeper into hiding, and essentially been silenced. Like the African-American community and the LGBTQ community, their faces need to be seen and celebrated, their humanity recognized and respected.
This portrait series aims to make these communities seen and accepted but also celebrated. They enrich our humanity not just here in Columbia but everywhere. They are who we are.