(work in progress)
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "hero" as "a person who is admired for brave acts or fine qualities." Furthermore, the English language separates a "hero" from a "heroine" by gender assignment, and while the term heroic defines a male hero-like quality, there is no adjective, for a feminine counterpart. In our popular culture heroes are often famed individuals, whose greatness assumed to be hard to attain, while the term itself implies a sense of grandeur, designating an instant bias. However, rarely we know of the actual life of the infamous beyond the sensationalized stories we hear or read, and therefore, such superficial exposure can explain why many choose their heroes from celebrated individuals. Everyday Heroes is a series of portraits aiming to defy the mythology of heroism as designated in popular culture and instead, honors the anonymous champions among and within us. This body of art features a diverse group of men and women whose survival represents a heroic act, and whose unique experiences and insights will resonate with many.
The inspiration for Everyday Heroes came from the stories that some of my students shared in passing, which led me to appreciate the unique challenges and common threads that empathically connect us as a society. The process of making the artworks involved meeting with each participant, taking her/his photos as well as recording an interview that detailed the timeline of her/his life-altering experiences. However, since gallery spaces are not well suited for reading long text or listening to extensive audio, I chose to editorialize the interviews in order to incorporate them successfully. Having said that, the balancing act that involved the editorial process proved to be the most challenging aspect of this artwork, requiring me to omit more than 90% of the interviews without heavily compromising the essence of their experiences.
All of the participants of Everyday Heroes live among us in Northern CA and Central Valley and continue to enrich our lives with their empathy and resilience. It is my intention to expand this body of art to an ongoing project, honoring many more individuals, some of whom I know and others who I will come to meet and learn from in future.
In closing, I would like to thank all the participant of Everyday Heroes for selflessly agreeing to share the intimate details of their lives, struggles, and insights. Their courage continues to move me.