Aug 08.31

Erasing Bullying: Inspiring change through community

Bryce Evans, artist and founder of The One Project has partnered with LUSH to create the impactful artwork for our Erase Bullying campaign. We chatted with Bryce about the importance of exposing the shocking, hurtful and explicit words we hear in everyday exchanges, and how he worked with us to create a raw and truthful campaign that he hopes will get people talking.

 

Can you describe The One Project and what inspired it?

The One Project is an online collaborative community to inspire people out of depression and into a better life. It’s mainly using photography to tell peoples’ stories in a way that others can connect with. It gets people talking about mental health: depression, bullying, suicide, anxiety…some of these bigger issues that hold us back.

The project actually started out of my own depression during junior high and high school. I didn’t talk about it, and I had this big secret inside of me…you put on the mask and you look happy and everyone assumes you’re okay. That’s the issue, no one talks about it. I started to get into photography and found that I was able to tell my own story through taking portraits of people. It’s evolved from telling my own story into being this community where we’re telling other people’s stories and having a conversation.

You did a research exercise for The One Project in a shopping mall. Can you describe that exercise and what came of the results?

We wanted to get more people involved in The One Project and show the raw side of bullying. We went to a mall and asked people to write down the worst thing anyone’s ever called them. We got just over one hundred responses and featured them in a photograph where we pasted all the papers we collected on the lockers of a school hallway.

From there, I started to think of how to make the photograph more impactful. I took those words collected in the mall and painted them over the photo. There was no editing-all the statements were exact. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done with the project… it was very emotionally draining. This piece is something that I want to put out to the public, but because of the explicit content, it’s frowned upon. But the thing is: these words were taken from people’s experiences. People hear this stuff almost every day, so why is it wrong to display it? People need to see what their sons, daughters, co-workers and friends are going through, and we need to be honest about what is happening in our society today.

How does this piece fit in to the LUSH anti-bullying campaign?

This mixed media piece was done with the intention of showing the public the raw truth of what bullying is- we too often simplify and censor the problem. I developed the concept of having the public come and paint white paint over the words to erase bullying. When I connected with the team at LUSH, we adapted the concept to work within the windows of the LUSH stores across North America. We also created a large-scale installation where we invited the public to come and paint over the words.

Do you think it’s therapeutic to paint over the words?

Totally. It was always the original intention to be very cathartic. For example, someone who is out as gay or lesbian, being called “fag” or having “gay” be a derogatory term used against them all throughout school…it’s possible they haven’t really dealt with that yet, or talked about it. This can be an opportunity for them to do something about it and feel like they’re erasing that…not that experience…but that hurt. And feel like they have the power to overcome it.

What are you hoping to achieve with the LUSH campaign? How are you hoping it will affect those who encounter it?

To get people talking. To shock people. To show the rawness of bullying. To get people thinking and inspired to do something about it.

What are your plans for The One Project after the LUSH campaign?

We recently opened up The One Project for submissions on our website, so we are excited to see what people come up with!

I’ve been invited to exhibit and present The One Project at Perugia Social Photo Fest in Italy this November and we are representing Canada in the exhibitions. It’s a new festival that features projects from around the world using photography for positive social change.

I’m also starting workshops in Vancouver schools where students will learn and be empowered to use cameras as a tool for coping and communication. I’ll tell my story, then allow students to experience it, while also gaining a better understanding of bullying and mental health issues.

If you would like to get involved or support The One Project, please visit:

www.theoneproject.ca

#theoneproject

Katy Cobb

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