Tough Skin is a multimedia project that engages social activity to raise awareness in visible outer differences. The project was inspired by my late grandmother's advice after I was diagnosed with vitiligo, she encouraged me 'You Gotta Have Tough Skin.' During my road to acceptance, I started to document my skin alteration through imagery and expressed my feelings in a journal to capture my emotions. Within a couple of years, I was finally able to be proud of who I am.
I felt alone and wondered if there were other people who looked like me.
Using social media applications, I connected with hundreds of people throughout this globe. Most are embracing their beautiful and unique skin, while others seek advice. There is a community that has been created, completely different from the society's 'norm.' I use my project as a support group to encourage others to embrace their flaws.
There is a difference between communication through technology in comparison to the connection with people, which is physical. Something incredible is shared, a relation in experiences.
Before traveling to a new location, I organize with multiple people and create a group gathering at a public location for everyone to join.
In the preparation process for Tough Skin, I create mala bracelets to give as an exchange to each person that is affiliated with the project. This becomes an exchange loop; a trade of exposure of the skin for awareness through the photographs and support from the bracelet.
A documentation and interview process takes place during the time that the photographs are taken, and I use these digital photographs and alter them to create a digital negative. Printing onto transparency paper, I create a framed image of what I am about to expose. Using Van Dyke Brown, I paint on emulsion onto a watercolor surface; after this is dry, I sandwich the digital negative with the sensitized paper and expose it for a certain amount of time. After the exposure is complete, I put the image through a series of water baths to create a brown print. The gradients in compliment the skin discoloration and create a sense of imperfection along with the flawed skin
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