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Angela Atamas | United States

Young women dressed in black march and carry protest signs during Black Lives Matter protest, Columbus, Ohio

This project documents a resurgence of protests across the nation and highlights the use of symbols to bring about social and political change.

To manifest is to bring a vision into reality. As lockdowns, unemployment and police brutality converged, the people in this series took to the streets and carried on their protests demanding social and political change despite curfews and dangers of gathering in groups during the pandemic. Their masks, clothing and accessories became symbols that transformed thoughts and ideas into visual articulations of their causes. Their art and slogans revealed deeper meanings seeking to make sense of our turbulent times.

Once more, the prevalence of protest entered center stage showcasing the age-old human need to be heard. Those who believe in the core nature of human rights realize that only through continuous recognition, promotion and implementation can we protect our right to protest. Through incredible resilience and powerful activism, protests are here to stay. If not for protesters, women would lose their right to safe abortions and gun violence would continue to threaten our fundamental right to life. Each time I march with the protesters, camera in hand, I bring their voices to the silent majority and put pressure on lawmakers to act in the name of progress, justice and freedom. While the protests may be ephemeral, their symbols, documented through photography and art, will endure.

A red baseball hat with embroidered “Make America Great Again”, an accessory turned symbol of Trump’s presidency, may have served its purpose, but its legacy remains a haunting reminder of January 6th assault on the Capitol and a warning for the future. A fist raised in the air, historically representing solidarity and fight against oppression worldwide, has picked up steam with Black Lives Matter movement. A symbol of strength drawn from previous generations, yet a sign that the overarching civil rights are still vulnerable. Unified by the most powerful symbols of all - physically showing up, acting up and acting out, we will continue to pack a punch until one day, not just in our vision, we will all make it.

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