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We are a vibrant community of artists dedicated to using photography as a tool for self-expression, personal growth, and social change within the journey of mental health recovery.
Working in Appalachian Ohio for more than 20-years, our success is defined by our ability to foster supportive arts groups; explore the boundaries of photography and mental health; and reach diverse audiences with our photographs and stories.
Each year, more than 60 photographers, instructors, and volunteers come together to create the Athens Photographic Project (APP). Many things happen during our photography groups: friendships form, self-knowledge deepens, perspectives change, a greater sense of wellbeing is realized, and all of southeast Ohio becomes our personal photography studio. This transformative process is driven by the power of the arts. Making photographs, talking about photographs, and viewing photographs – this is what we do, this is what brings us together.
Still, there is something even more fundamental to APP, which is the fact each artist participating in our groups has used photography to reclaim his or her own voice which was once lost to mental illness. This is no small task.
Years of discrimination, misunderstanding, and stigma have caused individuals living with a mental health diagnosis to stand in the shadow of self-doubt. Being undervalued by one’s own culture raises questions of identity. Who am I? Where do I fit in? Through the lens of the camera, each APP Artist arrives at his or her own answers to these questions.