By Micah Davis
Listen Up, Lansing
What was once a Lansing outdoor alleyway has become the temporary home to documentary portrait project, The Women We Are.
Located at the AA Creative Corridor in Downtown Lansing, The Women We Are exhibit showcases the work of documentary photographer, Amanda Grieshop. The exhibit’s opening night was Feb. 6, 2015, and it will conclude on March 6, 2015.
“It’s about nudity, it’s about being comfortable with it as a person within yourself. Being comfortable as a community,” said Grieshop. “Being comfortable with the fact that this is not pornography, there is nothing wrong with what you’re seeing in this gallery,” Grieshop said.
The photographer said she received part of her inspiration by entering in a body image project on social network, Tumblr. According to Grieshop, after submitting 85 images to the project over the course of three months, it was canceled.
“I took that body of work and sat on it for like a month, and just thought how can I take this conversation, that I really felt very passionate about, that needs to be out there,” Grieshop said.
The creator of the exhibit said she had a passion for photographing “real life women” women that have natural beauty, and not just the women that are portrayed in the media.
“We need to be continually talking about women and how they are viewed in the media. How they are in real life, how they really are, and that we’re okay with that, we like the way we are. How do we keep this conversation going and how do I make this my own project?” Grieshop said.
Not only did she want to continue this conversation, but she also wanted to make it her own by catering it to the Midwest.
She shot completely nude photos of women who reside in either Lansing or the Mid-Michigan area from the ages 25-41.
“It’s about a community, and using that as a strength. I like that it is about Mid-Michigan women, I think it helps people in this community relate to it,” Grieshop said.
Lansing resident and local business owner Kathleen Parker said she felt the exhibit empowered her.
“It really helped me feel better about myself because I don’t look like the people they put in magazines, so it was nice just to be able to relate to a photograph of a naked woman,” Parker said.
Adjunct professor Jeremy Herliczek of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University also took a visit to the gallery.
Herliczek said that some of the models on the wall appeared confident and others seemed shy about being photographed nude, but it was great to see.
“I think everyone who sees the work can benefit from that, yes. Whether you are male or female, gay or straight, I think we all have body image issues—and seeing other people confident in their bodies when their bodies don’t match what the typical media or porn industry says it should be attractive bodies—then when we see those people confident in who they are, it helps everyone feel more confident about themselves,” said Herliczek.
As the woman behind the camera, Grieshop also described other reactions of the community to the nude photography as mostly positive and surprising. She said that the thought-provoking exhibit is definitely getting people thinking, people are noticing and it is well received in the community.