Blog: Inspiration Between the Lines

Q&A with the Community Team of The Everyday Projects

The Everyday Projects is the outgrowth of a group of like-minded individuals focused on evolving visual culture past media-driven stereotypes–an increasingly relevant example of the power of collaboration to create positive change. The organization’s first initiative, launched in 2012 in the Ivory Coast, challenged cliché photographic representations of the African continent and went viral. 

Sparking a host of @Everyday feeds on Instagram – @EverydayBronx, @EverydayMiddleEast and @EverydayMumbai to name just a few–a cohort of IG feed founders formalized the project after meeting at Photoville in Brooklyn in 2014. Since then, The Everyday Projects’ expansive reach involves a host of initiatives, including: the development of a photographer mentorship program in partnership with Native Agency; a collaboration with World Press Photo on the African Photojournalism Database; outreach in schools through their curriculum on stereotypes, misperception, and truth in storytelling; and their latest project, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Artists Against an #Infodemic, a collaboration with the media companies Dysturb and Catchlight. 

Honing on the current moment, we checked in with the Community Team of The Everyday Projects to learn more about their most recent actions addressing the coronavirus and the wave of social justice protests sweeping the nation, inspired by George Floyd.

"Essentially Invisible". Collaboration between photographer Josué Rivas and artist Jose Gonzalez.

 

DUGGAL ART SCENE: Consistent with The Everyday Projects mission to combat systemic misrepresentation, your Instagram @EverydayBlackAmerica feed took over the @EverydayEverywhere feed at the onset of the George Floyd protests. Can you tell us about that?

THE EVERYDAY PROJECTS: The Everyday Projects works to challenge stereotypes and fight misrepresentation in several ways. For one, our community strives to make and share images that convey scenes of everyday life in ways that are more complete and more accurate than what is seen commonly in the media—images that celebrate the beauty in the normal, the mundane. Additionally, we seek to amplify the important work being done by local storytellers. Too often, editors rely on the perspective of outsiders to tell the stories of a community. We are working to alter and improve upon that practice, not only by encouraging local photographers to speak directly to their audiences through an @Everyday feed on Instagram, but also by introducing editors to a broader population of storytellers — photographers that live in these communities and are uniquely equipped to tell the stories of those communities.

Everyday Black America is one of the oldest @Everyday feeds. For years, its photographers have been telling the story of Black life in America — something they have continued to do masterfully during the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and for civil rights that were sparked by the murder of George Floyd. @EverydayEverywhere is the umbrella Instagram feed of The Everyday Projects and is curated each week by someone new. We were excited to have photographer Kay Hickman select photographs from her colleagues at Everyday Black America and post them to @EverydayEverywhere to help get those images seen by as many people as possible, and to help grow Everyday Black America’s audience.

My mother prepares cookies for Easter. Reggio Calabria, Italy, April 10, 2020. Photo by Antonio Pellicano.

DUGGAL ART SCENE: Your most recent project takes on the misrepresentation of information: Artists Against an #Infodemic is a rolling open call for submissions of visual art and storytelling that address key public health messages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Conveying socially relevant civic information visually seems like a potentially effective tool to convey dense medical or policy information in an accessible format. It seems appropriate for a fast-moving, social media-driven information age. What was the genesis of the project?

THE EVERYDAY PROJECTS: Like so many organizations, we were looking for meaningful ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships at Stanford announced that they were offering funding to fellows and alumni that were working on journalism projects related to reporting and countering misinformation on COVID-19. One of our cofounders, Peter DiCampo, was a 2019 JSK Fellow, and his wife, Dr. Jenell Stewart, is an Infectious Diseases specialist. We were in touch with other visual journalism organizations whose leaders are JSK alumni – CatchLight and Dysturb – and decided to apply together. 

The Everyday Projects has a global community of photographers and large social media reach; Dysturb’s mission is to place news photographs in public spaces, on large mural paste-ups; and CatchLight works to develop and amplify visual storytellers by bringing resources and organizations together. We’re also working with Pamela Chen, a current JSK Fellow who comes from a photography background, with top positions at both National Geographic and Instagram, and has been studying the spread of information through memes.

Dr. Stewart developed health care messages for our team, and we’re collectively working to pair them with artwork that can be pasted on display physically as well as spread on social media digitally. Photography, of course, helps make these messages real – the impact of visual storytelling is to make these health care messages immediate and quickly digestible.

Monica Rivera Zuñiga (36), is a mother of two children and third generation mariachi musician. Her mother, who she lives with, is a nurse and has warned her to stay home. “I stayed home for two weeks, but saw all of my colleagues were still going out and decided the income was worth the risk.” Photo by Ruben Salgado.

 

DUGGAL ART SCENE: Recently, you completed your first round of selections for Artists Against an #Infodemic. What type of work have you received so far?

THE EVERYDAY PROJECTS: We received submissions from all over the world, and all types of visual art. Of course, a lot of what we’ve selected is photography, but we’re also working with illustrators and painters. Brian Musasia, a spraypaint mural painter in Nairobi, is creating an entirely new piece with us in his neighborhood.

As we were about to announce our first cohort of artists, the protests against police brutality broke out, and we realized we had to respond to systemic racism as a public health crisis as well. 25% of the COVID-19 deaths in the USA have been Black people – we wanted to acknowledge that and convey it in our messaging, and to do that by promoting the work of Black artists.

HERAT | HERAT | AFGHANISTAN | 4/11/20 | In the female ward of COVID-19 hospital in Herat, each room holds 4 to 6 women. Some have tested positive and others are suspected cases, waiting for their test results. This way, those who are healthy are at high risk of being infected as well. One the male wing however, the positive and suspected cases are strictly kept separated. Photo by Kiana Hayeri.

 

DUGGAL ART SCENE: Lastly, thinking about climate change, reducing air travel and carbon footprints, as well as issues of misrepresentation and a decline in air travel due to COVID-19, tell us a bit about the importance of your Hire Local initiative?

THE EVERYDAY PROJECTS: The perspective of outsiders in telling the important stories of the world is undeniably important. We need fresh eyes to see, oftentimes, what lies before us. But the outsider perspective has dominated too many narratives for too long. White privilege — more accurately, white male privilege — has been at the center of storytelling for hundreds of years, much as it's been at the center of nearly every other piece of our collective global society. Editors have long turned a blind eye to local storytellers when looking to record the journalism and history of communities of color. And thus we have another form of oppression — communities of color live through various kinds of oppression, and then are muzzled and forced to see their stories told to the world by white men.

At The Everyday Projects, we work to amplify the voices of local storytellers, not just by challenging stereotypes through photography, but by providing structure, support, exposure, and direction for the diverse and worldwide range of @Everyday photographers — by offering professional development, by building community, and by promoting new work. Yes, the health of the environment is critically important, and it’s absolutely true that photographers have struggled to find work thanks to the dangers of travel imposed by COVID-19. If these realities force us to become more reliant on local storytellers, perhaps that is a silver lining to this tumultuous time.

 

Find out more about the Artists Against an #Infodemic collaborators:

The Everyday Projects: www.everydayprojects.org

Dysturb: www.dysturb.com

Catchlight: www.catchlight.io

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