By Rachel Woodward, March 9 2017—
From March 13–17, the Faith & Spirituality Centre (FSC) will celebrate Pluralism & Religious Diversity Week. One of these events — the What I Be Project — intends to capture what University of Calgary students are insecure about and turn it into art.
The What I Be Project has a worldwide presence and has included celebrities like Jackie Cruz from Orange is the New Black. The project will take place over the course of the week at the U of C. Photographer Steve Rosenfield will spend 45 minutes with individual students to get to know them and discuss their insecurities. At the end of each session, the subject will write their insecurity on their body for a picture.
“The process is cathartic and universally empowering,” FSC program coordinator Jessica Burke says. “Each portrait is immortalized for the entire world to see. Subjects are putting their insecurities out in the open and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before. By stating ‘I am not my ___’, you are claiming that you do struggle with this issue but it does not define who you are as a person. They are not denying their insecurity, they are owning it.”
The photos will show on screens in the Taylor Family Digital Library and the FSC. Burke says it was important for the FSC to provide students with something they can take away from the project after it ends.
“We will be the pluralism hub during the week. People can stop by all week long for food, snacks, [and] information,” she says.
Burke says the event highlights the FSC’s mandate.
“We work under the vice provost — specifically the student life portfolio,” she says. “So [it’s about] creating an interculturally competent campus, destigmatizing the idea of religion and spirituality on campus — most people don’t feel comfortable being a person of faith or religion on campus — as well as the Campus Mental Health Strategy in general.”
Burke acknowledges that opening up to a large audience about insecurities is not easy. She says that the FSC will provide access to student support advisors — counsellors — throughout the week to support those involved. She says that they are hoping for a positive outcome for the subjects.
“If even one person leaves feeling empowered, if they feel more supported by the university in general, if they have networked, if they have made a connection, if they feel a sense of support and community and intercultural competency, I will consider that a huge success,” Burke says.
Students can apply online to have their photo taken up and there will be a waiting list if spots fill up. Burke says the event is filling up quickly.
For more information, visit www.ucalgary.ca/fsc