Smile

Protesters always look angry in photos, and this art project aims to fix it

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Protesters tend to get a bad rap.

In news photos, they either have their faces covered up with Guy Fawkes masks or they look very angry. Look at reports on recent protests against police brutality and you will find the same scenes, repeated over and over and over again. The header images on my own recent stories have shown nondescript, probably angry crowds of people, sometimes wearing Guy Fawkes masks, and I can hardly even hold it against myself. It’s an issue.

It’s a problem of perception that Charles Wade, creator and curator of the ongoing art project Faces of the Movement hopes to address. The project aims to rebrand the face of activism by releasing a new portrait of a Ferguson protester every day.

“We want to change how people look at protesters,” Wade told Fusion in a phone interview. “We want to show that protesters are really just a part of active citizenship, and a lot of them are actually smiley, happy people.”

“Plus,” he said, “the project helps us extend the conversation about what the movement looks like, and who is quote in quote ‘running it.’ There’s men, women, gay, straight, trans, differently abled people involved out here.”

Wade said he’s been living in Ferguson “pretty much full-time” since the death of Michael Brown last August, organizing with the non-profit group Operation Help or Hush.

Faces of the Movement will continue releasing portraits shot by photographer Attilio D’Agostino until the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death on August 9, 2015, Wade said. After that they will try to organize a gallery tour of the works across the country, which would hopefully make stops at many colleges and universities. A book may also be in the works.

“It just humanizes them,” Wade said of the project.

"I love my city. But I hate the legacy of racism and segregation that continues to plague St. Louis. If our goal as a society is eliminating white supremacy and racial injustice, and it should be, then the movement that has risen out of Ferguson is a great place to start. How can a person of conscience not want to be a part of that?" -John

“I love my city. But I hate the legacy of racism and segregation that continues to plague St. Louis. If our goal as a society is eliminating white supremacy and racial injustice, and it should be, then the movement that has risen out of Ferguson is a great place to start. How can a person of conscience not want to be a part of that?” -John

"I was born in 1964. I had a cross burned in my yard at age 10. But Mike Brown was the first lynching I experienced. That was 40 years ago. And here we are, still, work to do. I understood Ferguson in light of seven years of activism in Kirkwood after our city hall shooting. The two incidents are not disconnected.” -“Mama Taye”

“I was born in 1964. I had a cross burned in my yard at age 10. But Mike Brown was the first lynching I experienced. That was 40 years ago. And here we are, still, work to do.<br />I understood Ferguson in light of seven years of activism in Kirkwood after our city hall shooting. The two incidents are not disconnected.” -“Mama Taye”

"We must organize better than their experts, educate better than their teachers, and empower better than their supporters." -Jonathan

“We must organize better than their experts, educate better than their teachers, and empower better than their supporters.” -Jonathan

"I see this movement as brand new and centuries old. It is a direct response to the murder of Michael Brown and a continuation of the legacy of Gabriel Prosser. The final products of White supremacy at home and abroad are misery and death. We fight for its abolition and nothing less." -Brendan

“I see this movement as brand new and centuries old. It is a direct response to the murder of Michael Brown and a continuation of the legacy of Gabriel Prosser. The final products of White supremacy at home and abroad are misery and death. We fight for its abolition and nothing less.” -Brendan

"Contrary to what anyone may think, we’re combating oppression out of love, not hate. Love for humanity and even love for those that hate us." -"Spann" aka @MalcolmXcelsior

“Contrary to what anyone may think, we’re combating oppression out of love, not hate. Love for humanity and even love for those that hate us.” -“Spann” aka @MalcolmXcelsior

"I believe one should act upon what moves their heart. Ferguson has moved my heart… so I have acted." -Sunny

“I believe one should act upon what moves their heart. Ferguson has moved my heart… so I have acted.” -Sunny

"White people should be able to see all children with the same empathy. Police are out here using black bodies as target practice and calling it justice. But they aren’t killing people that look like me. Why is that? The answer seems pretty obvious to me and one that requires we fight back." -Erica

“White people should be able to see all children with the same empathy. Police are out here using black bodies as target practice and calling it justice. But they aren’t killing people that look like me. Why is that? The answer seems pretty obvious to me and one that requires we fight back.” -Erica

"We represent the conscious-minded men and women across the world. We recognize the injustices that we are all faced with every day and we want to wake up and unite the rest of the world." -David, Canfield Green Apartments resident and one of the leaders of Ferguson Copwatch.

“We represent the conscious-minded men and women across the world. We recognize the injustices that we are all faced with every day and we want to wake up and unite the rest of the world.” -David, Canfield Green Apartments resident and one of the leaders of Ferguson Copwatch.

All photos by Attilio D’Agostino. Captions taken from Faces of the Movement.

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