Artist: AJ Schnettler is a nonbinary, multi-racial photographer/printmaker born and raised on the south shore of Long Island. They decided to get a new perspective on life and education by moving to the West Coast for their BFA. They received their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography with a minor in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2019. Their work is based around what one does to provide self-comfort, whether it is through identity or through the space surrounding them, and how to feel at peace; as well as work discussing mental health, specifically depression and anxiety in relation to body dysmorphia, and childhood trauma. Their printmaking work more specifically discusses the topics of depression and anxiety. They have shown work in Minnesota Street Projects, APAture 2019, Academy Art Museum, and multiple annual Open Book Shows.
Artist Statement: Nonbinary is a term that is relatively new to the world. As a result of this, not many people are fully aware of what nonbinary is. Nonbinary is defined as “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. As someone who identifies as nonbinary and knows many others who identify as nonbinary, I am aware that each person has a different relationship to the word. People identify this way regardless of race, sexuality, or gender assigned at birth. A majority of this community use different pronouns than the typical “she/her” or “he/him”, mostly using “they/them”, but the one tie to all of us is that we identify as nonbinary. This piece originated as how I would come out to my family but has expanded into representing this diverse community in order to portray that there is no singular way to be nonbinary.
The people who I am collaborating with for this series had their portrait taken on 120mm color positive film, the film being known for its bright, saturated colors which parallel that this piece is a positive celebration of these individuals’ lived identities. Each portrait, which they have chosen of themselves, is presented next to each person’s statement on why they identify the way they do or what the term nonbinary means to them. This statement is printed in their handwriting, making the piece more inviting and intimate for the viewer. The portraits and statements as a collection, ultimately inform those who don’t know about the community in a non-threatening, non-inclusive approach welcoming people to learn with open arms.