Our Past Does Not Define Us.

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Created: 07/03/12
Last Edited: 12/14/12
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This is a personal project that emerged from my 2nd term at Art Center. It focuses on portraits of individuals who have overcome and/or overcoming a violent/abusive past.

These individuals are not weak nor victims that society makes us out to be.
These are portraits of the strong and unyielding.
  • Our Past Does Not Define Us. is a series of portraits of individuals who have been subject to any type of domestic violence, emotional, psychological, verbal, and physical abuse.
    The photographs consist of the individual holding an image where the "root" of where the initial trauma took place within their lives while being photographed in their promising future. Along side their image is a hand written note expressing how they feel their experiences have affected them today.

    For those that have been subject to such trauma within their lives, many feel alone, broken and abandoned. Most of the time we are not able to openly speak about such experiences as society makes it too taboo to discuss such things while making us feel inferior and damaged. This project was initiated for those who have been subject to such experiences in realizing that we are not alone.
    Many of us, myself included have yet to accept the harsh realities, let alone openly discuss the past with those around us. This project was created for those to realize that though our pasts were far from perfect, that our past does not define us. Though we have suffered through the unimaginable, and the unbearable, our past makes us stronger and we are not to be ashamed. We have not fallen to society's expectations of being victims, but instead have grown to be fighters who fight for what we deserve-- a happy and fulfilling life.

    For myself, I had yet to accept what I had experienced in my life, and never traveled back to where the root of where my problems began. For this project, I finally made it back to my home where I witnessed my father beating my mother on numerous occasions. The iron gate archway that housed the country club homes was a painful reminder of my past that I tried to erase from my memories for the past 20+ years. Growing up I had suffered through eating disorders, neglect, depression, and fell into my own cycle of being domestically abused. I felt that the life I was enduring was the one I would have to accept; A life of suffering and pain.

    I was finally able to accept and conquer my demons with the help of this project. Though this project started out as a voice for the abused, it has transformed itself into a therapeutic process for many and for myself.

    As I write about this project now, I also openly invite those who would like to be apart of this process and share their story. I welcome anyone with open arms and a heart free of judgment. Anyone who would like to be apart of this process is welcome to contact me. And for those who may not be ready to share their story, know that you are not alone and you will get through whatever obstacles you are facing.

    Note: The location of the image was photographed, hand printed, mounted, then rephotographed with the individual. Both prints are fiber based prints and 11x14 inches in size. The image and the hand written note are both window matted on a 22x24 inch board. The images on the page were photographed and have been uploaded through the use of a digital camera.

    © Vicky Moon
  • Vicky Moon

    "The life I've lived is not horribly sad nor terrible. It's quite far from a tragedy or anything of that nature; in fact, my life sometimes appears to be rather pleasant. 
    My life is something I rarely share with the world or something I even acknowledge. Whether it is fear of judgement, embarrassment or the like, I usually close away form the world and mask myself with an exaggerated smile.
    I've finally come to realize that my life & my experiences are things I would never trade. I've experienced domestic violence, neglect, eating disorders, depression & the list goes on; My experiences do not define me nor do they rule me (any longer at least). 
    What I've witnessed, experienced & felt in my short 25 years of living have made me become a stronger individual. I know that whatever comes my way, I will be able to fight through it & over come it. 
    My experiences have made me understand that I am an amazing individual that has a fighting passion for Life. I don't believe I would appreciate my family, friends and importantly my life otherwise-- not as much anyway."
  • Violet Castellanos

    "I grew up in a physically & emotionally & verbally abusive house. It shook my sense of self. At about 5 or 6, I had to become an adult. 
    Although some kind of resentment and anger may alway rest inside my mind, I think that what I have witnessed has made me that much of a stronger person. I have learned from the mistakes of the generations before me.
    If something positive can come from that kind of situation, then maybe is wasn't a accident.

    I know that I am not a product of my environment.
    I know that I don't have to repest the cycle. 
    I know that I will not fall into addiction and substance abuse.

    I know that I will be my own person."
  •  Haena Yoo

    "My friend Jane and my dad are probably the most stressful people I've had and have in my life. Jane as being my best friend would treat me like I am her slave. And my dad would physically and verbally abuse me. Though I hated  them for their actions, deep inside I still care about them very much. That is why I am able to forgive them and myself and learnt to let go.
    People will slap you left and right wherever you go."
  • Erica Moon

    "4-12-12

    I've come across two major crossroads in my life & anticipate another.

    My life was such a mess...
    So many experiences-- The good, the bad, & the bizarre.

    I had countless regrets but now I have none.
    I've com to terms with my life & with who I am & I am prepared to let it all go if that's what it takes.

    I see things more clearly now & understand that it is only the beginning.

    My life is a gift & I truly believe that now.

    I am who I am & I am enough."
  • Nelson Diep

    "Growing up I have always been the weak, sick, little boy. The guy with asthma and eczema. My brothers and sisters are nothing like me... healthy. They played basketball, soccer, volleyball, you name it.

    My parents would always reinforce my fragile image. From comparing me to my siblings to feeding me weird Chinese medicine. I can vouch that snake blood, armadillo meat and all that good stuff does not work.

    As you can tell, I didn't have that much self-esteem growing up. I still don't have the highest self esteem but I have grown up to accept who I am. I used to do things for acceptance of others. Now it's my turn. Starting with this scooter!!!"
  • Terry Kim


    "Somebody told me that God made everybody equal...

    Before I used to believe I could have everything...

    Love, happiness. I didn't have those.

    I had a big car, a big house but I wasn't happy.

    The day I left the big house and moved into a smaller apartment, 
    my kids asked, "mom are we a happy family now?"

    I still hear them ask in the back of my mind.

    I tried my best but we never had money. No matter how hard I worked, 
    I was never able to buy anything my kids wanted.

    But I am so thankful for my daughters Erica & Vicky! They help me see the bright side & I'm thankful for that. Eternally thankful.

    I know they will live a better life.
    Because you're always wealthy if you're happy."
  • Richmond Parakhen

    "The moment you have to abandon every thing that gives you the abundance of life, it hurts, pure and simple.


    It's amazing and I fucking hate it.
    But the experience of losing the faith you had in yourself I wouldn't ever trade for because the best and most important thing I've gotten out of the full manipulation of life is that it's not ever too late to start your day over.
    No matter how much it hurts, it's not too late."
  • Josh Fogel

    "I am humble enough to not believe I am a phoenix risen from the ashes. I am just a Man.
    A man with a past. Sometimes good, something frightening.

    I do believe I am the sum total of my experiences. 
    For better or for worse, they are mine and I am the man I am today because of them.

    15055 Del Gado Dr. is the home I grew up in. 
    It is also where my nightmares live.

    In the thick air of my parents volatile marriage, my brother and I hid from their battles. 
    Shrieking voices. Smashing plates. Endless tears.. well, not endless. 

    At a certain point my life life became less about the scars of my past and more about forward motion.

    My toes point forward and there I shall go.

    Josh Fogel"

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