The Unseen Canvas: Visual Arts, Social Projects and Your Story in a Time of Global Chaos

A few months ago, I was sitting in a coffee bar,  looking across the room and someone caught my eye – based on how they dressed, their posture, the expression of their face as they typed on their phone, I formed an image of the person, albeit subconsciously and fleeting, as I habitually surveyed the room, without much thought or real attention. We are built around our opinions as a survival mode – often subconscious and fleeting.  I moved on, lost in thought, but these moments are what defines our reality and is more “real” than anything we will see online.  I actually knew nothing about the people in that room, their stories, what they have experienced and what they thought of themselves.  The social project I am <insert> was born out of the idea that there is often a disconnect between our internal image of our self, who we are based on our DNA, history, and culture, in opposition to what we often believe is the world’s view of us.

As a personal example, growing up in an oppressive and competitive  childhood, my own view of myself is shrouded in survival and self degradation.  But the feedback from my clients and co-workers tell me I am successful, a good father, and a very open and engaging  artist during our creative sessions, as well as the same in IT meetings and social gatherings.  There is a disconnect, which many, if not most, people share that is more real than any news or  image we see online.

In a world inundated with relentless news cycles and the constant buzz of social media, the nuanced tapestry of individual human experiences often fades into the background, overshadowed by the grand narrative of global events. Yet, it is within your individual story that the true essence of humanity—its trials, triumphs, and truths—unfolds. Art, and particularly the visual arts, can be intensely personal, leading to reflection and revelation – in a world with millions of photos uploaded every day, this is the connection which brings personal meaning to an image.

Creative visual arts, encompassing everything from photography and painting to mixed media and digital (AI) art, offer a unique lens through which we can explore and express the multifaceted dimensions of human life. These artistic endeavors do more than just capture moments or convey emotions; they invite viewers into a personal dialogue, prompting reflection on the complexities of the human condition that are often overlooked in our daily hustle.  Social projects that leverage these visual arts amplify this impact, transforming individual stories into catalysts for understanding and change. By focusing on personal experiences—each a singular thread in the broader social fabric—these projects challenge the viewer to consider perspectives beyond their own, fostering empathy and bridging divides. In doing so, they not only highlight the diversity of human experience but also underline our shared humanity.

As an artist and IT consultant, I’ve been drawn to the intersection of technology and art, not for the sake of novelty, but as a means to deepen our connection to the stories around us. My projects aim to encourage a moment of pause, a break in the viewer’s daily routine to reflect on the individual realities presented before them. This is not about the latest technique, hardware, or algorithm; it’s about creating a space where reflection and connection can occur, a rare commodity in today’s fast-paced world.

Why do I pursue these projects? Because in each subject’s story, there’s a piece of us all. These stories invite us to see beyond our own experiences, to question, and to understand. They serve as a reminder that amidst the global din, the quiet moments of individual lives hold profound significance. In every brush stroke, every shutter click, every digital render, there lies an opportunity to capture the seldom-heard voices and unseen moments that, together, weave the rich tapestry of our world.

Visual arts and social projects offer a counter-narrative to the prevailing stories of division and despair, shining a light on the resilience, joy, and complexity that lie within the human spirit. They remind us that, even in a world that feels overwhelmingly large and impersonal, the personal stories of individuals matter. These stories have the power to move, to heal, and to connect us in ways that transcend the limitations of language and geography.

In embracing these artistic mediums, we not only bear witness to the individual journeys of others, but also reflect on our own place within the larger human story. This reflection is crucial in today’s world, where the rush to stay informed can often lead us to overlook the very essence of what it means to be human. Through creative visual arts and social projects, we find a bridge back to that essence, rediscovering the power of personal stories in shaping our understanding of the world and each other.

The world of visual arts,  particularly photography and digital art, is full of repetition and copying (ironically the same thing that is feared with AI) .  But when the photos are intensely personal for the subject, that is when the power of the medium comes to bear – it is not just an image captured but a reminder of who we were and what we have become, both as individuals, and collectively as a society.

Feel free to peruse the images and find out more about the I am <insert> social project, now on display at Luminary by La Terza in College Hill, Cincinnati, OH, USA