Born in New York City Michele Zousmer is a self-taught photographer. Traveling for several years on photo tours and studying with many of the masters in the field, she created a niche for herself as a humanitarian photographer. Spending time in other countries and cultures she found herself getting close and personal with people around the world, especially women and children. Her eyes and heart were opened to the injustices of mankind.
Around 5 years ago she was given a wonderful opportunity by her local Sheriff and was allowed to document incarcerated women in a new reentry program here in San Diego She has not left the prison system and still runs a Women’s Empowerment group every Monday. This experience opened her eyes to the injustices right here in my own city. Current projects are with the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking She wants her images to bring awareness of what is ‘HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW’. Her images create emotion, curiosity, compassion and show a side of humanity most are not aware of. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Some photographs are in private collections.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW -IRISH TRAVELLERS
Traveling in Ireland and getting close to the Irish Travellers I saw issues that disturbed me so I decided to explore this further. It is the way I view the world as a result of my photography experiences. Because I am mostly focused on the women and children in the Irish Traveller community I wanted to bring attention to their story. The Irish Travellers are the marginalized community in Ireland. They are a beautiful group of traditional, gender-based people. They have strong values of family, lifelong bonds and God.
The early sexualization of the girls, teen marriages resulting in many children [average 12], lack of education, 81% domestic violence and 6% increase in IT women’s suicide, made me want to show the world what is going on “Hidden In Plain View”.
For many, there is a daily struggle for survival. Others are living more ‘settled’ in encampments, which are areas set up by the government. Also called Gypsies, the men sell horses and metal scraps ,while the women take care of their many children and caravans. I recently have had opportunities to speak with many of the women and I’m starting to hear that any of them want their lives to change. They want to stay in school, marry later and have smaller families. Last March 2017, the Republic of Ireland declared the Irish Traveller as a recognized Ethnic Culture.
There is resistance going on within the country now. This makes me want to advocate for this marginalized group even more.
We all need to care more and continue discussions on diversity.
To see more of Michele’s work visit her website.