Visions & Voices
Vision and Voices: Black & White Photographs by Diverse Women Working in Various Aspects of the Sex Industry
|Project Description||Bios||Community Partners||Exhibits||Media Coverage|
The subjective experiences and voices of sex workers are seldom heard and their needs are consistently defined and represented by non-sex workers throughout history, in society and within academia. Historical representations have contributed to the stereotyping and stigmatization of sex workers. Visual representations of sex workers by others have perpetuated stereotypical symbols of sexuality. Academic research is consistently being done 'on' sex workers instead of with them, denying them their agency.
The purpose of this project was to understand the needs and aspirations of female sex workers in Portland, Oregon from their own point of view through art. The research methodology of photovoice was used to bring forward the knowledge and experiences of sex workers' everyday lives through the inclusion of their photographic images and voices. This process entailed giving 35mm cameras to 11 diverse women working in different positions within the sex industry to take black and white photographs of their needs and aspirations.
After each woman took her photographs, individual dialogue sessions were held to reflect and discuss the images. The women were also invited to partake in two group dialogue sessions where they shared their photographs with each other and planned for an opening art exhibit of their visions and voices. The objective was to collaboratively identify important issues for female sex workers and to provide this information in photographic art exhibits to inform policy makes, influential community advocates and the broader public in order to advocate for social justice
The photographic images presented in the various exhibitions, taken by diverse women working the sex industry, illuminate issues around identity, sexuality, violence, love, death, privilege, class, power, race and respect. The traveling photographic exhibit uses art as activism to challenge ideas of sexuality, the human gaze, voyeurism, victimization, perspectives on sex work, and stereotypes and stigma associated with the sex industry.
- March 8-April 1, 2010
The Art of Social Work, Service & Social Justice
Buckley Center Gallery
University of Portland
- December 18, 2009
Bridges To Independence
- April 16, 2009
Food For Thought Cafe
Portland State University
- February 3-27, 2009
Portland Community College
- December 19, 2008
Chaos Cafe & Parlor