LIQUOR [for every block]

by Akkeem

I wanted to focus on the storefront first and let it introduce its thesis. I’m interested in how these environments can reflect the characteristics of our neighborhoods. Through all the same thread, each environment is unique and has a story.

Akkeem: "My father’s insomnia is what exposed me to creativity and I never realized, either he was drawing cartoons at 12am or building cars under a dim lamp light at 5am before I had school. Find doodles my mom did on her paperwork or finding poem my grandmother wrote, these were the moments I never realized sparked my interest. Throughout my childhood I experienced poverty and a myriad of traumatic experiences (take your pick). Growing up in some of the roughest areas of Los Angeles I was exposed to a lot, so much so that most things became the normal - death, poverty, gang activities, drug abuse, etc. I became numb to it, in that same breath I became aware of the potential of my family and friends – and why everyone was so special and creative. Opening my eyes to their potential and what made them special motivated me to find what it was I wanted to do and what was special about me."


"Attending several different schools around Los Angeles I was exposed to being marginalized within the education system, my teachers and fellow student exemplified what that meant daily. Classism existed alongside racism and stereotypes on many of the campuses I attended, but mildly compared to today."

on neglected topics in marginalized communities: I believe this series is a topic, investigating the current mentalities of our environments and neighborhoods can light the way forward. Alcoholism and substance abuse is still a real issue almost fueling the stereotypes of our communities, which cloud the potential for progress in our communities. Most of the neighborhoods I grew up in didn’t exemplify self care, but we have liquor stores for each block.

 

on re-framing the stereotypical identity: My way of doing [reframing and rejuvenating the stereotypical identity of the traditionally marginalized] through my work is trying to show people (especially marginalized identities) as they are or as they tell me they are. I try to prioritize the way the person being photographed chooses to be shown.​

 

on self-care and vulnerability: I believe reflection is one of the most important internal steps to take when experiencing vulnerability and vice versa. Some feel exposed and lack of control in a vulnerable state, but I believe vulnerability is key when building and maintaining your strength. I found that strength in reflecting my environment.

SYLA STUDIO.
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