WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Photographer Bryon Summers' "The WE LOVE YOU PROJECT is a passion project fueled by both art and activism. "It's a creative way to protest," Summers said.
Summers believes in the power of protest through the digital march. Picking up his camera for the WE LOVE YOU PROJECT and hitting the streets of Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Miami and Philadelphia with the goal of photographing 1,000 black men and boys - to take back the image of black men in America.
"As a photographer, images are my loudest voice," explains Summers. "They can be powerful reinforcements and examples of who we are and aspire to be. The WE LOVE YOU PROJECT shares portraits of the black men and boys in our communities - showing each other and the world that we are not worthless. We are someone's' son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, or father - we are LOVED."
He uses Instagram to get that done. "I wanted to flood the internet with positive images of black men to counteract the negative imagery that we've seen for years," Summers continues. "I'm asking everyone I shoot to take back their image. In this digital age we have options to advance our movement. We can digitally march in solidarity while actively changing a false perspective. It's been awesome seeing the support from both men and women coming out to participate, and in a way, digitally march alongside us."
The WE LOVE YOU project recently became a physical art installation on the wall of Union Market in northeast DC. "We hosted a photo shoot for the WE LOVE YOU project, but when we saw the call to action impact of such a simple idea I knew it had to be shared as a mural on the side of Union Market," said Jennifer Maguire Isham, Director of Strategy at Union Market/Edens. "Art is crucial to the growth and vitality of a city. It allows for dialogue."
The photo mural captures the faces of 34 men and boys of all ages. Some of the men have worked at Union Market or in the Union Market District, others were friends or people who heard about it through word of mouth. There is a portrait of participant Ainz Neal, a father, creative, and NYC native who splits his time between NYC and D.C. "I chose to participate in the WE LOVE YOU project because it shows our community that we can come together and help change the perception of how we are viewed as black men," Neal said. "I felt that it was something that was very necessary and important. I brought my son."
The reaction has been incredible. People in cars beep when passing, jump out and take pictures, or walk by looking at each photo. Bryon's own father is one of the portraits on the wall. On Thursday, Summers also photographed students from KIPP DC College Preparatory School at Union Market, and spoke to them about creativity, diversity, identity and celebrating their image as influential members of society. Summer told them that having his project on the wall of Union Market was crazy because it was a place and neighborhood he visited in high school — it was a place that he said, "made him."
The social justice-driven photography mural is also sponsored by the D.C. Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME) in celebration of Creative Economy Month, an initiative aimed at inspiring creativity across D.C.'s neighborhoods. The 6th Street mural was installed in partnership with Union Market and national artistic collective Creative Mornings.
"Bryon Summers' WE LOVE YOU photography installation at Union Market is a remarkable example of creativity," said OCTFME Executive Director Angie Gates. "He is an incredibly talented, visionary photographer and OCTFME is pleased to support his vision as a D.C. creative."
"We have worked with Bryon on various creative projects in the past, but nothing has felt as urgent as this," says Sally Rumble, Chief Happiness Officer at Creative Mornings. "In its simplicity, the We Love You Project disarms this hate and allows black men and boys to take their image back. It's a testament to the powerful role that art plays in activism. To quote artist and activist Paul Robeson: 'Art is the gatekeeper of truth.'"
Summers will continue his project in other cities, and will begin photographing women in his next portrait sessions.
For more information about Summers and his work, visit: www.TheWeLoveYouProject.com and follow @theweloveyouproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #weloveyoudc.
ABOUT UNION MARKET
The Union Market District is a 45-acre district in NE that is one of DC's most vibrant, diverse and thriving neighborhoods—a living laboratory for a sustainable urban community and place for creative minds and businesses to connect, thrive, launch and make DC their own. Since opening in September 2012, The Market at Union Market, the acclaimed food market with over 40 local scaleable businesses, averages 15,000 visitors per weekend and has hosted over 400 community and private events. For more information about Union Market, please visit www.unionmarketdc.com.
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SOURCE Union Market