Todd Drake creates art that is shaped by community. A 2004-2005 Rockefeller Fellow, Drake is currently an artist in residence at UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Global Initiatives and touring around the U.S. and Middle East with his latest project, Esse Quam Videri: Muslim American Self-Portraits.
The mind takes a different set of pictures. For three years I have crisscrossed my home state of North Carolina taking pictures of Muslim Americans. Each photo is a collaboration that expresses what the participating Muslim wished to share. Their images in Esse Quam Videri are currently touring the United States and Middle East. But when I close my eyes and think about my experience of helping make those images I see a different set of photos. One is of a full moon shining over an outdoor gathering of Muslims, all laughing at the comedians from the Funnymentalists comedy group. I saw the moon because I tossed back my head to let out a laugh and noticed it shining down on us from behind. It was at that moment that I thought “This is what we need as a nation, if we could all just get to this point.”