'Race and Democracy: A Photovoice Project' Creates Community Conversations

Members of the Kent and Kent State University communities weaved their way through the expressions of artists’ ideas of “community" that are on display across the walls of Uumbaji Gallery in Oscar Ritchie Hall until Feb. 10.

The Growing Democracy Project features a collaborative effort that aims to "bring together diverse constituencies.” The group hosted an artists’ reception January 26 for the Photovoice Project on Race and Democracy in Northeast Ohio.

The 2023 Photovoice Project Gallery

The Photovoice Project is an art display that uses photography and storytelling to engage community members and encourage them to describe the strengths, weaknesses and overall health of their community.

“All too often conversations about democracy and civic engagement are siloed, cut off from conversations about race, racism, and racialized systems of oppression,’ Ashley Nickels, Ph.D., co-founder and co-organizer of The Growing Democracy Project, said. “The Growing Democracy Project, and this project in particular, challenge us to think about what the intersections of race and democracy look and feel like to residents living in northeast Ohio.”

The 2023 Photovoice Project Gallery

Community members were asked to share photos that they felt described their community. By allowing community members to submit their own photos, each photo had a different meaning and unique perspective behind it.

“As a part of this project, we have spoken with many of the artists, who have told us how much this experience, this space, this opportunity means to them,” Nickels said. ‘We are honored to create spaces for people to share their stories,”

The 2023 Photovoice Project Gallery

Each photo told a story about a person’s individual experience and was closely admired by attendees. More importantly, the photos were starting conversations at the event and beyond. 

“Race is an inevitable part of building a democracy. Everyone’s voices should matter. To me, this is true inclusion,” Alina Uzor, Center for Pan African Culture graduate assistant, said. “This exhibit is a powerful way to communicate what these voices look like. Looking at these pictures, seeing people in their sometimes private moments, speaks to people on a personal level.” 

Community Members at The Photovoice Project

The event is organized and sponsored by the Growing Democracy Project, with support from Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies, Center of Pan African Culture and Anti-Racism and Equity Institute.

To learn more about The Growing Democracy Project, visit growingdemocracyoh.org/.

Banner photo courtesy David Foster

POSTED: Friday, January 27, 2023 11:28 AM
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2023 10:42 AM
Chloe Zofchak, Flash Communications