On November 9th, after waking up to the jarring outcome of the election, something happened. People across America stood together in solidarity and defiance. Thousands took to the streets to protest. Not only to fight against the rhetoric of racism, xenophobia and misogyny but also to unite in a message that love trumps hate.
In a beautiful and moving series of black and white photographs, artist Elizabeth Fisher gives us a glimpse into the intimate moments and the inspiring people who stood up to fight for what’s right.
Tell us a little about yourself. Your background.
I am a photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. Throughout my life I have always been drawn to the power of visual communication. I studied Art and American Civilizations at Brown University but decided to take a leave to pursue a career in film and photography. Now much of my personal work is focused on capturing people on the street. I am often looking for moments of expression or authenticity to document.
What did this election mean to you?
Growing up in Washington DC, I took an early interest in politics. I have been proud to witness President Obama eloquently represent our country and fight for social progress over the course of his presidency. But nothing about this campaign cycle felt like politics as usual. We had one of the most qualified candidates in history with Hillary Clinton (not to mention the historical nature of her candidacy) lose to a candidate whose values are not representative of what our country has always stood for. It’s jarring to think that someone who has inspired so much division and spoken disdainfully about so many groups of people will be at the helm of our country.
What about that moment inspired you to document it?
For me, it was two-fold. There have always been certain moments in my life that felt important to document visually. Where creating imagery was cathartic and helped me navigate the impact of that moment. But it was more than just that. I also felt the strong need to get out and join the thousands in the streets to show solidarity for those that were particularly marginalized by this election. I think these images, while they hold a personal meaning to me, also transcend that cathartic personal experience and communicate the collective experience that we shared in protesting. I hope we can look back in 4 years and see this moment as representing a shift, hopefully towards reinvigorating a movement and inspiring people to stand up for what is right.
Who are the people you photograph? Is there a story of a protester that stands out for you?
During the protests, I tried capture the scope and diversity of people marching. There was so much passion and energy, I looked for moments of expression that felt like they communicated that energy.
The night after the election was the first protest I attended. Despite protesting peacefully, I ended up being detained and put in a holding cell with two other women from the march, one of whom was comedian and activist Elsa Waithe. This was my first arrest and I was feeling anxious but Elsa reassured me. She has been subjected to these types of arrests on other occasions and it was really eye opening to hear about her experience. She talked about her growing activism and her participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. While we were talking, she said something that really impacted me. She told me to read the Martin Luther King letter from Birmingham Jail and said after your first protest arrest “either you get radicalized, or you go home.” It really stuck with me and helped solidify my eagerness and resolve keep protesting and to continue the work of putting my lens on the events unfolding.
What’s next for you?
I will be going to DC for the Women’s March. I believe it is an important event for women and for society. Now, more than ever, we need to work towards empowering women and girls and building bonds that strengthen our impact. After the march, I hope to utilize this body of work to support the movement. I’d like to publish a book that in turn gives back to nonprofits aligned with human rights issues.
What are you marching for?
I am marching in solidarity for equality and human rights. I am marching to remain visible to reinforce the idea that we are making our presence known, that these will be enduring issues, and we are not backing down from them.
See more of Elizabeth’s photos here >>
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