World-renowned as the greatest photographic exhibition ever assembled, the Family of Man by Edward Steichen awoke something inside of me and inspired the Restoring Humanity Project resurgence. Moved to tears, I slowly worked my way through each of the 503 photographs within the exhibit. Photographs depicting the ritualistic traditions, habits, actions, choices, and emotions that we all share. Pictured were individuals from every corner of the earth celebrating, grieving, eating, cleaning, playing – living.
Easily overshadowed by Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss just two rooms over, The Family of Man was created as a humanist manifesto for the equality and peace of all mankind. Set to establish and cherish the sacred common ground in which we all walk, The Family of Man spoke my language. It spoke everyone’s. It was universal. It was heartbreak and heart fulfillment all at once.
Staged in an opulent art gallery and world heritage site, the understated exhibit was the only one of its kind, not plated in gold leaf or dimly lit by a hanging chandelier. The exhibit was all in black and white, photographs taken by over 273 artists around the world.
Since its first presentation in 1955 at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the exhibit has since been presented in over 150 museums worldwide, and I was lucky enough to view it in Vienna, Austria.
“Having toured the globe, exhibited in over 150 museums worldwide, the final integral version of the exhibition was permanently installed in Clervaux Castle in 1994. Since its creation, having attracted over 10 million visitors, The Family of Man has entered the history of photography as a legendary exhibition. In 2003 the collection was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register.”
People everywhere are absolutely incredible. I knew that my travels would grant me a new perspective, and this exhibit cemented that. Viewing each photograph in the series, I felt within me the presence of my family, my heritage and traditions, and those who came before me. I traveled through 11 countries alone over the course of two months and found that everyone everywhere only wanted to connect. There was no fear or hesitation from one country to the next. When it came down to it, everyone spoke the same language of universal empathy. It need only to be listened to. Of all the authentic connections and conversations shared, I found that accomplishments and accolades were never discussed. Rather, passions and experiences were what brought us together. Who we truly are, and what we are made of.
Restoring Humanity Project is here to remind us what it truly is to be human, to serve as a digital space to represent the duality and dynamic nature of the human condition. My trip can be summed up by The Family of Man; seeking to reveal the commonalities everywhere I’ve been, the coming together, the restoring of humanity.