The Recorder – ‘We have a voice’: Photography, T-shirts combine to illustrate ‘Pro-Roe’ project

TURNERS FALLS – While a picture is usually worth 1,000 words, Turners Falls photographer Anja Schütz says her latest project is “a lot more about captions”.

Following the United States Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, who recognized a constitutional right to abortion, Schütz compiled a series of photos showing residents wearing “Pro-Roe” t-shirts. Phrases such as “abortion saves lives”, “abortion court” and “my choice reigns supreme”, printed in bold black letters, appear when juxtaposed against otherwise simple t-shirts.

Posted on Facebook, Instagram and anjaschutz.com, each photo is accompanied by a caption provided by the featured model.

Schütz said she didn’t go through a typical selection process following a call for models ahead of this project. Instead, she chose to include anyone who reached out with a desire to say their part.

“I think what we see from all of these legends together is that there’s this amazing, wealthy community in the valley that really supports human rights,” she said.

A long scroll bar awaits those who visit the “portraits” tab of Schütz’s site. As of Monday, some 30 entries, all unnamed, have been cataloged as part of the Pro-Roe project, unifying to serve as what Schütz called “a mirror for so many of us.” In addition to featuring a model, each photo is taken in the model’s home to ensure that each shot is as intimate and personal as possible for those involved, according to the photographer.

“I didn’t know what to say to Anja after I sat down to take this photo of my experience,” one entry read. “I remember very painfully the isolation of my own abortion six years ago. My partner at the time of my abortion went completely emotionally MIA. It was devastating. I have never felt so alone in my life. »

“I was not unlike most female students who are left alone with the burden of a decision after two people act,” reads another. “Being an unwanted child myself, I swore never to do this to another human being. I proudly stand by my decision decades later.

Schütz admitted to being “not a very outspoken verbal person”, having been relatively apolitical until recently. In 2016, she decided to express herself using art with her #GrabHimByTheBallot campaign, “a ‘complete knee-jerk reaction’ to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recorded boasts about sexual assault on women.

The project, which featured studio shots of naked women with their private parts obscured by the hashtag and a ballot, attracted more than 200 women and was featured in the Greenfield Recorder, Boston Globe and Glamor Magazine. . Six years later, considering the fallout from the overthrow of Roe v. Wade was “a good wake-up call for someone like (Schütz) who has always lived comfortably,” she said.

Greenfield Precinct 5 councilor Marianne Bullock, a former healthcare worker and assistant midwife who has revealed her involvement with the Pro-Roe project, says her decision to become a model was driven by a desire to provide such a signal alarm to others who might not. sympathize with the message.

“I guess what I hope people on the other side of the spectrum will see is that there are so many reasons people have an abortion and it’s not just a flippant decision that people take,” she said.

Local radio personality and president of the Shea Theater Arts Center Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, who also revealed his participation, observed that “it’s easy to see black and white about it until you hear people’s experiences”.

He was taught to think that way himself, he said, recalling “a radical rebirth experience” that followed his Catholic upbringing. Talking to women, Belmonte explained, was how he finally recognized the hypocrisy of anti-abortion teachings, as well as the related policies crafted by “the arbiters of this nation” in the Supreme Court.

“What’s clear to me,” Belmonte said, “is that we have a country that talks to me about how everybody has these freedoms, but when we talk about that freedom, they ultimately don’t want to recognize this freedom.”

From now on, Schütz plans to continue working on the project until “interest dies down”. Next week, she has shoots planned in New York to expand the range of voices. She also encourages those interested in sharing their views to do so by contacting her at [email protected]

“I think it’s very important to document in times like these that people have a position on the right side of that line,” Schütz said. “People screaming are the most heard, but I feel like that’s a good rebuff to show we have a voice too.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]

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