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#ArtUnitesCbus Film & Photography Exhibition

Benjamin Willis

Benjamin Willis is a self-taught photographer from Columbus, aiming to show the richness and complexity of the inner fabric of Columbus folk. Willis received BAs in painting and drawing, as well as philosophy, from Otterbein University in 2014, then served as the resident artist at the university the following year.

“Yes ‘God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!’ Half a century late are we now living in that time of fire, when innocence is overwhelmed by injustice, and humanity has become hardened against the truth? Are we ready yet? Have we suffered enough? Are we willing to lay down the burden of separation and division and finally choose to love?” James Baldwin asks us in his seminal work The Fire Next Time if we as a people, a community, a nation, if we are finally willing to live in the House of Love, if we are willing to choose life over individualism and death to build a world of peace. Since the death of George Floyd we bear witness to the world that we inhabit, it has become as plain as day. My photos aim to show the fire this time that Baldwin so eloquently laid out for us. We see people of all ages, races and ethnicities come together to fight and stand eye to eye with their oppressors all over the world, and Columbus is no different. The aim of these photographs is to call all people to stand for Black Life, because if black lives do not matter, how can any lives matter?

From May 28 through June 30 I made hundreds of photographs, all on film covering the uprisings in Columbus. I plan on using the money from this grant to make a photo book in collaboration with local writers, poets and authors who were also on the ground experiencing what we were all thrust into.

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Venmo: @lowercaseb