In my project, In the Presence of Family: Brooklyn Portraits, I document the concept of family as it is defined by the subjects in my photographs — through not only their familiarity, closeness and commitment, but also their heterogeneity, openness and diversity.
Photographing people in familial relations began in 1999 and spanned the next decade. This project unveils interactions and relationships between individuals in family situations from neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. It explores issues of race, gender, class and family diversity, highlighting the connections that transcend the categories our society commonly uses to define the family. These images raise our awareness of those around us, of their differences, struggles and achievements. This generates understanding and ultimately leads toward a higher degree of empathy and tolerance. We learn to appreciate the connections — whether by blood or not — which enrich all of our lives.
As Charlotta Kotik, Curator Emerita, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, states in her essay about this project, “The nuclear family — father, mother, children — is no longer a prevailing model. The structure is dramatically changing. Newly created families with children from previous marriages, gay and lesbian partners, children within same sex families, multi-racial adoption, and of course, one parent families are all part of our world and all are documented in the work.”