Artist's Statement

Tamara Reynolds

One Square Block: The Unseen Seen

The Drake is a series of portraits, still lives and streetscapes that document the lives of people existing just above survival on one square block around a motel in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Drake Motel is located in an area ignored by developers, a microcosm of the disregarded or resentfully tolerated. Alcohol and drug addiction are prevalent among the residents. Prostitution, panhandling and day labor have become ways to support addiction.

The Drake offers a means to delve deeply into a world both far removed from my own but also perilously close –– how my life might have looked had I not found the resources that led me to recovery. The work continuously challenges my concept of empathy and how to photograph my subjects in such a way as to “make the unseen seen.”1 I am passionate in my intent to push back against a society of increasing culturally endorsed behavior to not acknowledge the marginalized. I hope the intimacy of the portraits engages the audience in such a way that they identify with those suffering. Rather than resentfully tolerate and disregard, they may feel the healing powers of empathy. Everyone suffers from the ramifications of addiction on one level or another, either being directly affected by the loss of a love one or witnessing the indignity of a society losing a battle to drugs. These are not easy pictures, but my hope is that the images give space for viewers to move closer, to enter the stillness of the photographs and consider the lives of those looking back.