Meet the Face of Pride: TJ Nichols
TJ Nichols entered our #CLTPrideFaces contest to become the model for the basis of artist Edwin Gil’s 16-foot by 8-foot Face of Pride collage. Stop by the Faces of Diversity art exhibit, contribute your rainbow thumbprint and help create this unique artistic expression!
In TJ’s own words: When I tried to find a photo of myself that would be able to express an actual feeling of relativity for spectators of the image, I couldn’t help but tell myself I wouldn’t ever have such a photo that could have meaning to anyone, who would want to look at me? That’s when I realized that one of the biggest aspects of the pride festival is to express self acceptance, and tell the world you’re happy for who you are, which, growing up as a gay … individual in a small country town in the corner of NC, who was also overweight, and a little awkward, has made that acceptance of who I am, a struggle that took a lot of strength to fight through. I’ve evolved since then, but I’m still always telling myself there’s all these things about me that that make me unapproachable, or less important than others. However when I look at some of my photos I just feel so unique, and pleased with myelf. The image of myself in my head is to weak now to defeat the happiness that comes from looking at photos of myself, and just how unreasonable my own fears of being seen as something less than amazing really were. My look in itself has turned into an example of how far I’ve come, and how much effort I’ve put in to being my own person, and not worrying if someone thinks negatively about the human I am, because I love to express myself for who I am, and it’s all that matters. Looking out at the LGBT community, you can see this sense of unique self expression all over. We have worked so hard to overcome our insecurities, but one day, we all had, or will have, our moment that we look at our selfie, and we are filled with the pride of who we are from what we see. We come together to celebrate that sense of self acceptance with this festival every year, just to show the world we love what we are… and that’s something worthy of a celebration. In conclusion, I believe my image, the look I have created, expresses perfectly an image that can show pride of being who you are, and not just for LGBT community members, but everyone out there. Also, I did try and make this “brief”, but once I got going, it would have never put across what I intended it to, so my apologies for the book. #cltpride #lgbt #loveyourself
Face of Pride Contest Top Two Finalists
I should be the face of Charlotte Pride because I’m an out and proud transgender person of color #tpoc #qpoc #CTLPride #pride #trans
The face of pride is a person brave enough to be their authentic self, even when we live in a world that pushes us to hide. This isn’t always as easy as some may perceive. It doesn’t always fit into a comfortable stereo type. Bigotry is alive and well. To me, pride is so much more than the fight to love who we love…but the fight to have pride in loving ourselves. As we are. Who we are.
TJ’s winning photo will serve as the basis of artist Edwin Gil’s large-scale, interactive art exhibit at Charlotte Pride. Edwin will collect 10,000 rainbow thumbprints — yes, you read the right! 10,000 thumbprints! He’ll use the thumbprints to create a giant collage, with the Face of Pride selfie as the model!
Contest ran July 28-Aug. 8.
Learn more about Faces of Diversity the Face of Pride Contest:
Charlotte Pride launches online ‘Face of Pride’ photo contest in collaboration with Arts & Science Council-funded ‘Faces of Diversity’ art project Artist Edwin Gil will collect 10,000 thumbprints to create ‘Face of Pride’ portrait in interactive art exhibit to be created at annual festival in August CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Faces of Diversity, an international art enterprise that breaks down stereotypes using art, today announced Charlotte Pride will become its latest participant. As part of Charlotte Pride’s community development initiative, Faces of Diversity will be used to encourage respectful dialogue and understanding among the LGBTQ and ally community. An online photo contest is being announced to find the 2014 “Face of Pride,” an individual whose photo will be used to model this latest installation of artist Edwin Gil’s “Faces of Diversity” art project.
“Charlotte Pride is proud to introduce artist Gil’s “Faces of Diversity” interactive art project at the 2014 Charlotte Pride Festival where we will unveil the ‘Face of Pride’ project,” says Craig Hopkins, co-director of Charlotte Pride.
During the two-day festival, Gil will collect over 10,000 thumbprints from festival attendees to create a 16-foot by 8-foot collage. He will also be collecting pictures and individual stories to incorporate into his “Faces of Diversity” project, which celebrates the endless depth of experiences in communities around the world.
“Faces of Diversity Charlotte Pride will join the other 10 ‘faces’ around the globe and the more than 10,000 thumbprints and numerous heartwarming stories that make up this project,” says Gil. “It’s a great honor as an artist and gay man to support the community in which I live and work.”
The collage will be modeled after the winner of the “Face of Pride” social media photo contest, running from July 28 – Aug. 8, 2014. The public is invited to submit a headshot via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CltPrideFaces and a brief description of why you should be the face of Pride and what that means to them. The winning headshot will be created in a collage by Gil using the thumbprints left by festivalgoers. Everyone is invited to connect with Charlotte Pride at @cltpride and Faces of Diversity at @FacesOfDiversity. Full contest rules and details, art project photos and updates will be made available online charlottepride.org/faceofpride/.
This project is made possible, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council, the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art. https://www.facebook.com/FacesOfDiversity http://www.artsandscience.org/
About Faces of Diversity: Faces of Diversity helps promote diversity and multicultural awareness through hands on art activities and thoughtful conversation. It reaffirms a sense of unity and connection among diverse groups by demonstrating how our differences should be respected and celebrated. Contemporary, conceptual artist, Edwin Gil, shares his personal story of triumph over tragedy, leads workshops, and creates a large 8′ X 8′ piece of artwork using participant thumbprints. The ‘face of diversity’ is gifted to each participating organization and serves as a reminder that our collective strength comes from our individual talents and unique personalities.