This project is about my son, Max Harrison, who happens to have Down sydrome. In our culture I have the experience of people deciding they know who my son is before they meet him. They base it on an old stereotype they think they know. Or they base their assumptions on the experiences they’ve had with someone they once knew in school who had Down syndrome. Neither is actually about knowing my son and learning who he is as an individual. They either feel sorry for me or they tell me how lucky I am that I have an “angel baby”. Neither is coming from the truth of who my son actually is or of my own experience of being Max’s mother. All I have to do is walk out my front door with Max to be able to experience how the world views my son. It’s in their facial expressions, their attempt to look away and not acknowledge him because they are uncomfortable or they don’t want me to be uncomfortable, or they stare, give me dirty looks, give him looks of judgement or wanting him to not be near them… or they smile big and think I really want them to come over to me to tell me how lucky I am to have that angel who is always so happy. ( My son has a wide range of feelings by the way )

I’m exploring how uncomfortable our society is with differently abled human beings and bringing to light what is true. My hope is that this work will shift the paradigm from fear and marginalization to love and inclusion in a very real authentic way.
I’m creating a wall of 500 Polaroids of my son that illustrate his varied and layered human qualities and emotions that make Max who he is. I’m also creating large portraits of Max with my 4x5 Large Format Camera. Max participates in the project by telling me if he’s interested or not in having his photos taken and if he is he picks the camera, helps me load the film, is involved in what he’s going to wear for the photo sessions, and often takes photos of me as well with my Polaroid Camera. I plan to publish a book of these images and have an exhibition of this project.
If you are interested in donating to this project for the purchase of the Polaroid and 4x5 Film I’m using please connect with me. I’m going to be acknowledging all contributors to this project in the book and on the statement about this work on my website, etc. support@catherinejust.com