Every weekend, Chris Arnade leaves Brooklyn Heights and heads to Hunts Point in the Bronx, searching for subjects of his ongoing Faces of Addiction photo essay. “I post people’s stories as they tell them to me,” he writes. “I am not a journalist. I don’t try to verify, just listen.” They talk. These New Yorkers are living in shelters, abandoned buildings, crack houses, and vacant lots are suffering through addiction and recovery, together. Many of them are victims of abusive households, former runaways who grew up on the street, forced into the most dangerous sort of sex work, assaulted, raped and stabbed. They are blunt about their lives; they are grateful for what they do have. The essay is both heartbreaking and hopeful. There’s a tentative intimacy to them, a reserved dignity. Flip through some of these portraits and see the full set to read their stories.
“It’s easy to ignore others,” Chris Arnade says of life in New York City. “By not looking, by not talking to them, we often fall into constructing our own narrative that affirms our limited world view. What I am hoping to do, by allowing my subjects to share their dreams and burdens with the viewer and by photographing them with respect, is to show that everyone, regardless of their station in life, is as valid as anyone else.”
After Arnade captures their portraits and stories, he returns to visit with a large print for each. At his upcoming Portraits and Pigeons show at the Urban Folk Art Gallery in Brooklyn, he will be selling prints, with all proceeds going to Hunts Point Alliance for Children. You can keep up to date with the project by following him on Twitter at @Chris_Arnade.
Photo credit: Chris Arnade, Faces of Addiction. Maribel. “If I tell you my story, I’ll make you cry, but I wanna do the before and after, and I promise a year from today you are gonna take my picture again and I’m gonna be bloomin.” Read her story.