In July, the Musée du Louvre in Paris featured photographic work by College of Architecture + The Arts alumna Paola Katherine Rodriguez ’15. Her photograph “Takia” was included as part of the Fifth Annual Exposure Award reception’s portraiture collection at the museum.
The event – hosted by SeeMe, an online platform that connects creatives of various artistic media across the globe – featured Rodriguez’s series, Broken Free, along with other photographers that collectively represented more than 191 countries.
“I have been applying for grants and submitting my work to various calls for artists and competitions,” Rodriguez says. “This one received about 5 million submissions, and only 200 photographs were chosen to be displayed. When I was told that one of the 200 photographs was mine, I was speechless and ecstatic.”
Broken Free is a photographic project that emphasizes the healing processes of survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and rape. The photography series was started by Rodriguez in September of 2013 and was shown both at the FIU Photography Club’s Photojournalism Exhibition during FIU’s 2014 Take Back the Night event and at the Graham Center Art Gallery as a solo exhibition.
Rodriguez has photographed and worked with 17 survivors of abuse – ranging from 19 to 46 years of age.
“As a survivor of abuse and rape, I realized that an important thing that was taken away from me was my voice,” Rodriguez says. “In my photography series, Broken Free, I try to promote awareness of victimization, while empowering survivors to speak out.”
For Rodriguez, exhibiting at the Musée du Louvre means additional exposure for an important project.
“If one more person could be reached, it’s one step forward in helping someone break free,” she says.
At the Fall 2014 FIU BFA semester reviews, Rodriguez received a scholarship for Broken Free, placing among the top three of those reviewed.
A the end of 2015, Rodriguez plans on moving to Santo Domingo to continue the series. She hopes also to continue it in Puerto Rico within the next two years. She expects to publish the project in book form, and to revisit previous participants within five years and photograph them again, to differentiate their past and their present.
She is currently seeking survivors of any form of victimization who would like to share his or her story. If interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.