Flawless Gem Photo

Photograph with Acrylic Rhinestones 11” x 11”

I have been taking photographs of text written on walls, windows, and lampposts in the DTES in recent years. This was the starting point of a long-term, ongoing project series called “Gem Photos”. Normally viewed ‘pejoratively’ as “graffiti”, “Gem Photos” effectively archives moments of urban conversations between our neighbours, the members of my community. I want my community to know that their/our voices are important. I aim to reach a broader audience.

Because the images of text I take are essentially from anonymous sources/folks, I am unable to confirm whether it touches upon Indigenous traditional knowledge. Having said that, I can confidently state that I have taken photos of Indigenous folk's text (as we should all know, the population of the DTES has a sadly over-represented citizenship of Indigenous folks). I also observe and acknowledge that the text I have appropriated comes from Indigenous peoples and is photographed on stolen land. My intent is to initiate and develop collaborations with fellow community members who want to and have something to say.

It is in the DTES’s current affairs that I want others (non-DTES folks) to see what we are up to. I want to humanize the hopeless. I am curious about folks being able to interact/react and engage/respond with the images/text from anyone. I am investigating ways to make the world outside of the DTES to pay attention to what the folks of the DTES have to say around the world around them/us. Particularly during these unprecedented times, I highlight these voices as essential to the world outside of the DTES.