The Unconventional Apology Project, created by Los Angeles based artist Chantal Barlow, was inspired by events haunting Barlow’s own family’s history. Her grandmother, Mableine Nelson Barlow, mother of 7 children, was shot and murdered by her grandfather two days following the finalization of their divorce. The dark secret has remained unspoken within her family, as her grandfather, a man of power, was never convicted or even sent to trial. As her grandfather grew older, he began to consistently capture moments from their family’s life. When he died, at age 84, he left her his beloved camera. Today, she uses this camera “as a tool to photograph…women that have been impacted by abuse, and have been silenced.” She aims to give these women a “Trail of Existence. They will not disappear.”
Barlow and her teammates, Tiffany Curlee and Dr. Susan Hammoudeh, have taken on this ambitious and altruistic project with the aims to create a platform to raise the volume of survivors of domestic violence. Not only does the team capture portraits of these women, they also have listened to and documented their stories. Each photograph shows the brightness and radiance in each of these women’s eyes, proving that there is light on the other side. The diversity of both the women’s stories and appearances teaches that domestic violence has no face. This is a truly pure and critical project, offering insight into a dark and far to common reality.
The body of work has been created to, in the words of the project developers;
“recaptur[e] the humanity of abused women. Part of the apology is shaking up our preconceived notions of abused women; how we have made them all appear (or disappear) in media and other social outlets. They have lost their personhood, and are reduced to an event. This portrait project aims to shift our experience of these women.”
To know more about the project and get involved, find the project’s website here.