Sometimes two is better than one, but when the two work as one nothing is better
The best feeling anybody can have is to say 'thank you' after a sincere compliment. However, the biggest 'thank you' that I can give anyone is not for what might be the apparent or obvious, but instead for what is not. I give thanks to every person I have had contact with that make up this success story. My outlandish outbursts, anger, and dispositions early in my diagnosis were like tectonic plates colliding, resulting in catastrophe. I thank them for enduring, engaging and loving the worst possible me. Most of all, I thank you Albert.
What Two Look Like
You are never alone no matter how lonely you feel. Even though we might not have the support systems we need to aid, calm, or draw strength from, we all have at least one other person we count on when everything appears dim and dark. The “Two White Shirts” series explores the relationship between two people that primarily rely upon one another for support. It shines a light and features the story of the person we never hear about. Usually, it is a significant other, family member or a close friend that we entrust with our otherwise non-communicable thoughts, and emotions that fester in the vastness of our own bowl of turmoil. Whoever that person is, and whatever the relationship one thing is certain. He, she, or they have more than likely never asked or expected anything in return. Their time and resources, patience and understanding are tested throughout the relationship.
In this series I decided to change the dynamics, so instead of individual shots, I combined the shoot for the primary and supporter. My original format for The White Shirt Project afforded the participants a safe space environment. The Two White Shirts follows the same idea and framework ensuring the integrity and reputation of the project.
The intensity of the shoot is the same as it becomes woven with the energies contained within the room. Music is played to taste as memories are incited, triggered and handled with care. However, no shoot is ever the same, and the uniqueness of what makes us one of a kind is demonstrated as we look into the eyes of each person in the series.
Suzanne & Gary
I was attracted to Jose’s White Shirt Project (TWSP) the minute I saw it. Not only because I knew several of the people in the original photographs, but I thought the visual concept was ingenious and well, beautiful. It was, in essence, ‘portraits with a twist.’But it wasn’t until I stopped by his Parkchester apartment and interviewed Jose for a story about the TWSP on thisistheBronX, the website I publish, that I learned of its agenda to address mental health issues. I was even more taken back when, in that interview, Jose revealed his own mental health problems. This, of course, is a main point. Mental illness is not always detectable. Maybe someone seems a little strange, but really, who among us isn’t? The silent demons that play in some people’s minds are effectively portrayed by this unique photo series. I imagine that for Jose, the TWSP is a relief, a release, a way to express his own difficulties in a dramatic, dignified, and beautiful way. But maybe it’s a bit of a struggle, too, for him to combat his most personal issues publicly. Wanting to support, not only did I use some of my healthcare contacts to provide medical resources for the TWSP, but I put him on BronxTalk , my BronxNet TV show, to help spread the word. Also, I have to say, I was eager to be part of it and told him if he was going to shoot further, we’d love to participate. After all, when it comes to mental anxieties, yeah, I’ve got them, too. We all do. Suzanne and I were told that the underlying theme of the shoot was support, how one person in a relationship supports the other. While Jose might have preferred an image that reflects taut emotions, I think he found that with us, that was going to be difficult to capture. The reasons why are evident in the photo. We support each other through all of our issues. The comfort and contentment on my face masks the joy of mutual support that Suzanne openly expresses. This is the energy that sustains us when life gets most difficult.
Growing up I pretty much knew what was expected of me and I did it. Unfortunately though, I had little trust in my parents and teachers to help me achieve things. And unlike many, I did not know how to go about succeeding myself. I had trouble overcoming things in my mind that got in the way. Accordingly, I respect people who have to deal with their problems and are able overcome them. Even though comparatively, some of mine might seem small, we each have our own issues and they are all that we know. Our problems are our problems, large or small. Sometimes I feel that some of my issues have held me back, while other folks who have gone through worse have achieved success. It took me twenty years to graduate from college, and I am proud as hell that I did it. However, I never did everything I wanted to do with my college degrees. I am a mixed media artist and my biggest block right now is having confidence in, and showing my work. I’ve spent time in therapy, so that I wouldn’t raise my two children with the same roadblocks I have had to face. I guess it follows that I love when people I know sit down to tell me what’s bothering them and I’m so happy that they trust me, very different from my own experience growing up. I appreciate being the person that other people come to for advice. Ironically, other people’s problems are a distraction from my own. With Gary’s help and support, our kids have grown to be independent. They get to do what they want in life and they are equipped to travel the paths they choose. I draw strength from my wonderful marriage, and I enjoy the man I’m with. He pushes and helps me be all I can be. Although sometimes I’m a bit resistant, I try not to be. We laugh together all of the time. My adult children support me, and I support them unconditionally as they also support me. I know that I am a VERY strong person, a loving person, and a feminist. I’m a positive person with a humorous outlook. So far things have been fine in my life, if not perfect. But what’s perfect anyway?