A Collaboration of Atlanta Legal Aid and Atlanta Celebrates Photography
The core of Legal Aid’s mission is to help low-income people navigate the complexities of the court system at the most vulnerable times in their lives. Legal Aid’s clients face evictions, health crises, foreclosure, domestic violence, education issues and consumer challenges that can only be solved with the help of a lawyer.
“Picturing Justice” is an annual exhibition that illuminates the human stories that live behind such common shorthand as “case”, “client” or “issue” so we can better experience, empathize and advocate for the lives that are improved by this important work.
Mary Norman stands over her daughter, Brianna, and grandson, Braxton, as they draw chalk on the driveway of her home in Conyers, Ga.
This year’s exhibition focuses on legal advocacy the areas of social justice as they may pertain to housing insecurity particularly in relation to health care and medical advocacy, caretaker rights and struggles, immigration policies, physical assault and domestic violence.
Photography by Dustin Chambers
Writing by Max Blau
Tamiko Harris and Mary Norman, two mothers living in metro Atlanta, are among the people whose lives were once upended by domestic violence. Popular images of family violence frequently focus on women who are bruised and battered by their partners. But that narrow lens misses a more complicated reality.
While law-enforcement agencies received nearly 45,000 family violence incident reports in 2018, experts and advocates believe most abuse is broader than just physical violence, sexual violence, and stalking. One of the more insidious forms of family violence is known as “coercive control,” in which someone exerts power by limiting their partner’s ability to make choices, including whether or not to see her family members and friends.
But when women like Harris and Norman decide to end abusive relationships, they are often required to face their abusive partners in court, extending that pattern beyond the life of the relationship.
Experts say people who engage in emotional abuse use legal systems as a final tool to exert control after a breakup. They file a barrage of motions intended to harass defendants, or delay proceedings for months or even years.
“They would much rather not have to fight or go to court at all,” said Sarah White, a staff attorney at Atlanta Legal Aid who represented both Harris and Norman. “But they cannot afford not to keep fighting for their family.”
Harris’s and Norman’s stories highlight two different ways courts can impact people seeking to end relationships marked by physical and emotional abuse. Dustin Chambers photographed both mothers as they reassembled their lives — and reclaimed their dignity — after years locked in litigation.
“Picturing Justice” Group Show
Immigrants: Us Against the wall series
Artist: Ellen Jacob
“In this series, Immigrants: Us Against the Wall, I photograph immigrants against graphic backgrounds of walls to bring attention to the victims of the current war against immigrants. The faces of the undocumented are hidden, highlighting how invisible they must be. Citizens and documented immigrants faces are shown.”
Seen + Heard: Conversations about Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Rape
Artist: Honey Lazar
“I didn’t want any distractions from the evolving narrative. Eye contact was difficult for some. Sessions often began with nervous laughter, and tears streaked faces when the mask of secret keeping was removed. Details of being molested by a family member, awakened in the night to rape, sexually harassed in the workplace, and molested during summer camp filled the studio.”
Artist: Natrice Miller
“In 2019, I spent almost two months photographing students at two Atlanta elementary schools that were a part of Path to Bright Futures, a youth education after-school program created by refugee resettlement nonprofit New American Pathways. The program Adult refugees entering the U.S. have to deal with a range of obstacles ranging from prejudice, housing, proper employment and legal issues, but I was curious to see how the children were adjusting to American life. I created a series of portraits (paired with quotes from each child) that would allow the reader to get a glimpse of the refugee experience through the eyes of a child.”
Artist: Chris Reel
“These are photographs of four pairs of feet marching to and away from urban city homes, depicted in the positive and negative space. The two images below are 2 of 8 from my ExitUs body of work series.”
Artist: Kelly Jordan
“I hope to compassionately show the plight of individuals who, for reasons unknown, have found themselves living on the street and presumably seeking a safe place to rest….”
Artist: Stephanie Eley
“A staple of my work is the content I create for humanity by bringing awareness to socio-political issues within our community. I am invested in creating visual platforms to nurture conversations about subcultures such as: the visually impaired, African-American’s, civil and women’s rights”
Artist: Gittel Price
Paying tribute to My Hero. A mural honoring one of our greatest leaders, John Lewis. Photo taken in Atlanta on July 26th shortly after his passing.
De la Luz
Artist: Maria Isabel LeBlanc
“For years during my commute along Highway 1, I would see fields and anonymous figures from my window streaking by. I decided to stop one day and look at these unexamined scenes.”
Artist: Aviel el-Shair
“This photo is a depiction of a man that needs a break from having a target on his back because of the color of his skin. He searched the woods of Atlanta for solitude and found it in a hidden bunker that he now calls his own.”
Artist: Tracy Bosworth Page
Remnant, 2020. Tifton, GA. “Remnants of a tar paper house, pieces of the history and soul of freed slaves and tenant farmers still standing but barely. I am on a quest to document some of the tar paper homes still dotting the southern landscape that were more prevalent during my childhood.”