Over the course of my 2011-2012 year of service with AmeriCorps, The Identity Project changed me deeply, both as an educator and an artist. It gave me a new understanding of the untapped creative potential of my students, and the power of creativity to transform their sense of self and the way they identify as learners, seekers, and doers. As the project progressed, I also re-imagined the role of teacher to be part mentor, lead student, and friend. The Identity Project was a collective gesture towards awakening the brilliance of each student’s unparalleled individuality – the brilliance of “I” in a sea of “we, you, us, they, and them.”
Since my year of service I have re-created many versions of The Identity Project in residencies up and down the east coast. Each piece in this collection represents a collaboration between myself as the photographer and my students as the poets and designers. In my eyes, the success of a project like this is found most palpably in the demonstration of an act of bravery. I know it will become clear, as you cull through these pages, how deeply each student adventured and investigated – how they learned to take risks, become proud, and surprise themselves.
- Alesandra Zsiba