Dates2017 - Ongoing
- Location Eureka, United States
Eureka! seeks to challenge and deconstruct the social stigma associated with substance abuse. It asks viewers to look deeper, to understand better, and to embrace the shared humanity that unites us all, even amidst our differences.
Eureka! is an ongoing project in Humboldt County, CA, which seeks to challenge and deconstruct the social stigma associated with substance abuse. It captures everyday life surrounding addiction to illustrate our shared humanity rather than portraying a singular and sensationalized version of complex and politicized issues.
According to the WHO, addiction to illicit drugs is the most stigmatizing condition. Mainstream media plays a significant role in shaping stigmatizing attitudes toward substance abuse through misrepresentation. Media often relies on cursory symbolism to drive complex stories, which creates binary assumptions. Photographs depicting addiction often showcase depravity without possibility. By choosing to focus on actual drug use, the media highlights individual accountability in depicting addiction rather than looking at the systems that create the condition for abuse.
Humboldt County reports one of the highest overdose rates in the state. The California Report labeled Eureka as one of the “most dangerous and drug-addicted communities” in the state. Stigma not only adheres to an individual but also to physical spaces. When members of the local community come upon a disrupted environment that lacks context, they often blame "addicts" for the disturbance. This blame further alienates the user, limiting their involvement and acceptance within the community.
Eureka! explores the multiplicity of where stigma is placed and by whom it is placed. I often capture landscapes unpopulated by the human form, allowing viewers to fill in the spaces with their own biases- inviting them to question where stigma originates and who propagates it. I look for these disrupted environments, moments that are rarely as simple as they seem, to throw into question preconceived notions placed on substance abusers.
Addiction is interwoven with the routine, the mundane, and the everyday. As American society scrolls their social media feeds, searching for that dopamine release, the hypocrisy of stigma surrounding addiction is revealed in a world of craving. By capturing moments from daily life that surround substance abuse, I emphasize the universality of human emotions, actions, and aspirations- revealing the thin line that separates 'us' from 'them'. Eureka! is an invitation for dialogue, introspection, and connection. It asks viewers to look deeper, to understand better, and to embrace the shared humanity that unites us all, even amidst our differences.