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AJ SCHNETTLER
Photographer

Artist Statement:  Nonbinary is a term relatively new to the world, leaving many people are unaware of the word’s meaning. Nonbinary is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female”. As someone who identifies as nonbinary and knows multiple nonbinary identifying people, I understand each person has a different relationship to the word. People identify this way regardless of race, sexuality, or assigned gender, but what ties us together is how we identify. This piece originated as how I would come out to my family, but has expanded into representing this diverse community to portray that there is no singular way to be nonbinary. The people who I am collaborating with for this series had their portrait taken on 120 color positive film, which is known for its bright, saturated colors and parallels the positive celebration of these individually lived identities. Each portrait, which they have chosen of themselves, is presented next to each person’s statement on why they identify the way they do. This statement, printed in their handwriting, makes the piece more inviting and intimate for the viewer. The piece as a collection ultimately informs those who don’t know about the community in a non-threatening, inclusive approach welcoming people to learn with open arms.

Artist Bio:   I take photographs using color positive medium format film and have each person I photograph write a statement on why they identify the way they do. After developing the film, I have the person look through the portraits of themselves to decide which photo they want me to use to represent them. When taking each photo, I ask the person I am working with to bring me to a place where they feel the most themselves; they don't need to hide who they are at all; a safe space they are willing to bring me to. I also ask they dress the way they would on any regular day, as if I weren't about to take their photo. These photos are made to help other nonbinary/agender/gender fluid people feel understood. These photos are for the people struggling with their gender identity. These are for the people who don't think we exist, and that nonbinary people are real. These photos are for people to learn.

AJ Schnettler's work will be on display at House of Payne:

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