Iconic Interpretations

I adore some of those “iconic images” that are well known in the western world and even around the globe for some. My creative mind however would love to do a gallery showing of these iconic photos juxtaposed with my own take of the images showing a more diverse cast of characters. Not just for my own personal interests, but I think it would do wonders for the mental encouragement of younger generations to see images of people who more closely resemble themselves. Detailed below are just a few images I would love to recreate with a broader interpretation.

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Marilyn Monroe‘s money maker is a well known shot. This scene is from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. In the film she is walking along the street wearing the white dress when she walks over a subway grate enjoying the breeze flowing from the subway. Although many know this image, I doubt that most have actually seen the movie. I would love to see this image done with a woman of color who isn’t stick thin. 

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This image has to be one of my all time favorites. V-J Day in Times Square was a spur of the moment photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt on 14 August 1945. Now, let’s put aside the fact this sailor did not have permission to kiss this woman, it was another time and sadly women’s rights were slim if at all. I love the excitement and passion this photos captured. The end of a brutal and devastating war, the overjoyed enthusiasm, so much life and energy in a single photo. I have always thought it would be brilliant to see a gay male couple in both roles for one shot and a lesbian couple in both roles for another. In this photo the male is the masculine sailor and the female is the feminine nurse. Portraying the same gender as both masculine and feminine I think would speak volumes.

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The Beatles arriving at JFK on 7 February 1964. This group of four was a phenomenon in the music industry. There are tons of photos and videos of American fans who just had to see them. Let me be clear, I like the Beatles and have no problem with them. My issue is that scientists rarely receive this sort of recognition and praise. I would love to photoshop this photo with Doctors Banting & Best (the men who isolated and created Insulin for Type One diabetics) and maybe mix in two female scientists like Marie Curie and Jane Goodall. It is because of science the many diseases can be cured or vaccinated. I would have been dead long ago if science hadn’t stepped in. Let’s give these incredible people the respect that they have so rightfully earned. 

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Lunch atop a Skyscraper. This image transforms the viewer to New York City in the 1930s. The building project was Rockefeller Center, and although the photo may have been staged, those 11 men were all working on the building and were actually sitting on top of this beam 840 feet above the streets on NYC. Identifying each of these 11 men has not been too successful yet, but researchers are still attempting to trace each one. I would love to recreate this photo with one of all women, of different races and sizes. Showing all little girls that they can do anything men can do. The forced gender stereotypes are slowly making their way out of civilized cultures, we all must try harder to ensure they no longer exist.

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A.J. Russell’s image of the celebration following the driving of the “Last Spike” at Promontory Summit, U.T., May 10, 1869. This photo represents the celebration of the completion of the railroad, although it wasn’t actually a direct shot from east to west, it was the closest thing that the time. The labor forces to finish this railroad project made up of over 4,000 men. Two thirds of those building were of Chinese origin. However, this photo does not contain one Chinese person, at all. Those men who built this worked ridiculous hours, in dangerous conditions on minimal pay, food and sleep. Yet they do not get to be photographed joining in the festivities. America has a unique way of whitewashing history, I would like to help undo this atrocity and recreate this photo with only Chinese people. It would be a step in the right direction to show young Asian Americans that they too have forefathers who created the United States. 

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NASA Mission Control. So many people worked so incredibly hard to win the Space Race. Although the driving reason for this was about the Cold war, scientific achievement is still important. The diversity of the staff who made it possible for men to walk on the moon, is wide. So you might ask yourself why is everyone in this photo white and why is there just one woman mixed in to the crowd of so many men. The answer is simple: America in the 1960s. Its disgusting to me that I come from a country where women and people of color are treated as less than. What’s even sadder is that this was only 50 years ago. So, let’s erase everyone from this photo but 10 people. We’ll keep the woman, JoAnn Morgan, and 9 other men. Now, let’s add in the rest: many women worked long hours to make this dream a reality, so half of the audience must be women. People of color, be them Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American must be well represented as well. If you have not yet seen the film Hidden Figures, do yourself a favor and see it! Every child in the united states and around the world must see that no matter what their gender, or nationality or skin color or body type can do everything they put their mind to.

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Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This shot is known as one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. I am not a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and it’s due to the incredibly racist portrayal of Mickey Rooney as an Asian landlord. I digress. This image is well known to many even among the crowds and younger generations who have not seen the film. The simplicity of this photo could be recreated easily replacing Hepburn with almost any other minority group. RuPaul perhaps?

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Joe Rosenthal’s photo, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima represents the marines in action. Although you can barely make out who the marines are in the photo, I would love to recreate this photo with a mixture of women. Women fight and die for their country just as any man did and would, so why not recreate the image to better represent that.

One amazing person I have been obsessed with lately is William Kueho Yu. He is a California based screenwriter who in 2016 created the now famous #StarringJohnCho where John Cho is photoshopped into images of Hollywood blockbusters usually made of entirely white cast. (See image below) I don’t like Twitter at all,  but I do follow him on there and everyday he tweets an array of wonderful things, but one that I really like is “Representation Matters Today” and this is tweeted everyday. I could not agree more with him.

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Representation is important for so many reasons. Everyone should be able to see themselves in TV, Films, Books and Photos. No person should be limited by their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity,  national origin, religious/non-religious beliefs or race. I would love to recreate some of these iconic images to better represent the world around us. So I will end this blog post by quoting William Yu, “Representation Matters Today.”

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