By Rachel Woodward, March 14 2017 —
From March 13–17, the Faith & Spirituality Centre (FSC) is hosting various events to celebrate Pluralism & Religious Diversity Week. One of these events — the What I Be Project — intends to capture University of Calgary students’ insecurities and turn them into art.
The What I Be Project has a worldwide presence and has featured celebrities like Jackie Cruz from Orange is the New Black. The project is taking place over the course of this week at the U of C. Photographer Steve Rosenfield spends 45 minutes with individual students, getting to know them and discussing their insecurities. At the end of each session, the subject writes their insecurities on their body for a picture.
“The process is cathartic and universally empowering. 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,” FSC program coordinator Jessica Burke says. “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 are showing on screens in the Taylor Family Digital Library and the FSC. Burke says it is important for the FSC to provide students with something to take away from the project.
“We [are] 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 the FSC is providing access to student advisors or counsellors throughout the week to support those involved. She says 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 applied online to have their photo taken.
For more information, visit ucalgary.ca/fsc