Amy Iddings completed a Master’s of Social Work degree at Spalding University in 2016, and this project was part of her culminating project on the use of whole body/whole mind approaches in the treatment of trauma and addiction. In 2014 she collaborated with Glenn Hall on a project for her own healing, which she casually called “phototherapy.” The sense of recovery–the medicinal quality of the work–was so profound she began an inquiry into using self-guided creative portrait photography with others, beginning with those dealing with addictions.
Though I argue we are all addicted to something, in the case of drugs, the lens our culture uses to see these individuals seems harshest and least forgiving. It may be why I am starting here. I believe people deserve to be presented in a way that leaves their humanity intact.
The idea is that this sort of art is not just therapy; it is also a tool of resistance. The concept of the project is to have a visual conversation that is courageous, affirming, and challenging to the standard narrative on addiction and those who live it. It is built around the desire for participants to become agents of their own identity–both public (within their local communities) and private (through the conscious creation of a creative visual experience with a tangible outcome). This project is fed by the idea that each of us is more than the worst things that have ever happened to us, including the worst things we have ever done.
I want to show images of people living with addiction that are beautiful: not intentionally glamorous or heroic, but beautiful in terms of authenticity. I want to show humans seeking their medicine by doing what brings them back to themselves. It’s important to be able to hold a space that is respectful and careful, where they can share a piece of their story they might not have a chance to tell any other way. I see it as a small anthology of pain, healing, identity and perception.