Why Chris Arnade is prophetic.

Most people, especially those of us in white bread, middle-class suburbs, have a distinctly negative view on the inner city. Drugs, violence, prostitution, etc. However, photographer Chris Arnade, challenges that unrelateable, cut-and-dry stereotype with every click of his camera’s shutter.

The people portrayed in his photos, which are usually accompanied by a short summary/commentary on the surrounding events, are just that: people. People filled with love, pain, hope, and desperation. People with complex pasts and indeterminate futures. People whose core difference with Arnade’s audience lies in their income level. And Arnade simply tells their stories. Since he sticks to the same general area, multiple photos are often linked together, telling a greater story than each individual part.

This is not to say that these people are faced with different problems than the typical viewer. The inhabitants of Hunts Points come face-to-face with issues such as drug use, prostitution, and abuse on a much more regular basis. But the way that Arnade communicates them, in both their photos and their stories, one can sympathize with them, as mothers, friends, or just fellow human beings. The sympathy and empathy consistently displayed on the photos’ comment threads attests to the raw humanity of Arnade’s work.

In just existing with the people of this stereotypically “bad” neighborhood, Arnade has shed a light on their amplified struggles, but most importantly, their innate humanity, encompassing the whole spectrum of emotions and experiences. He shows that, despite the stereotypes and stigmas, people are people: the complex, damaged, and struggling, circle of life.

 Note: Arnade places a high emphasis on the trap and downward spiral of addiction in Hunts Point. For more information on that element, check out his Facebook (x) or Tumblr (x.)

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