None of us can deny that art is a great conversation starter. After all, it is consumed and loved by all of us in some shape or form. But what often makes me sad is people with vitiligo being underrepresented in it.
It’s an open secret that about 1% of the world population is living with vitiligo. Every now and then, we even see animals with vitiligo getting capture too. But, is that reflected in artworks hanging in those art galleries that claim to capture the world as it is. Of course, not!
If popular culture was more inclusive of vitiligo, we wouldn’t have so much stigma and myths around this rather harmless skin condition, something shared by 1% of the world’s people. Still, in the last 10 years, though not enough, we have made some progress. This piece tries to capture all happening in the world of art for vitiligo.
In 2016, a vitiligo portraits series was exhibited in France, USA and India by New York-based French artist Stephanie Corne. This consisted of a collection of portraits of volunteers from New York, Detroit and Montreal. With a goal to showcase the beauty of people with vitiligo and display their own emotions onto their skin, the series got worldwide press coverage. Prior to this Corne’s same photography project on vitiligo was featured in an article on CNN.com on the occasion of the world vitiligo day. This was probably the first time when any prestigious media outlet took up a story on vitiligo.
In early 2018, celebrity photographer Ferrell Phelps did his bit to challenge the society’s perception of vitiligo. Vitiligo awareness activists like Iomikoe Johnson, Sharon King, and Andre Joachim Jr took part in Ferrell ‘s project – “The Skin I’m In,” which included an exhibition, the book launch, and a few YouTube talks. FYI – the exhibition was held in Houston to celebrate the canvas of all skin types and skin conditions.
Last year, UK’s celebrated photographer Brock Elbank too finished his 63 portraits series on vitiligo. With minimalist, high-contrast portraits, the ace photograph highlighted the beauty of asymmetrical vitiligo patterns. Elbank’s 22 months long photoshoot project garnered extensive media attention, capturing beauty of people with vitiligo from United States, Brazil, Germany, England, Italy, Sweden, Austria, and Finland.
Paintings can be used as a tool to celebrate the beauty of individuality, empower difference and champion the spirit of resilience. This could be one of the reasons why some professional and occasional painters have started attempting vitiligo on canvas.
Though we often see many new artists publishing their work Instagram, capturing the subject of vitiligo, there was one artwork that captured our attention. Fatimah Abdulaziz Alkhaldi, a Saudi Arabian medical student, shared a series of her paintings on social media, last year to empower women with vitiligo. Fatima, who is also the CEO of TEDxKSAUHS’19, definitely helped the world see beauty in different lights.
Apart from this, Samantha Parkhouse, in her recent work, perfected some portraits of people with vitiligo, including Tom Radido and Carissa. These painting are deliberately monumental in scale and attention-seeking to reflect the beauty of asymmetry on human skin. We’re so happy to see vitiligo being painted on humongous canvases finally.
“The skin” was Fola David’s focus for an art series. Through this artwork, David perfectly captured the beauty in different unique skin patterns. For the same, he had volunteers with stretch marks, vitiligo, acne, dark spots, and freckle. Among these volunteers was Daniel, an 8 years old boy with a unique vitiligo pattern on his face. Fola uploaded this series on his Instagram on the occasion of World Vitiligo Day in 2018. The response was overwhelming!
If you look at Alexandre Keto’s murals, you sense a strong message of self-empowerment. Now wonder if the Brazilian muralist used his art form to empower women with vitiligo. Alexandre drew inspiration for a series of murals from a local teen with vitiligo – Roberta Avelino and help the world see beauty in different lights. His unique murals featuring the beauty of vitiligo caught local media’s attention as well as got worldwide coverage.