I’ve been focusing on work dealing with racial and ethnic identity using the Sociology department and my Photography classes.

-Rachel Orlang, BFA

I’ve been focusing on work dealing with racial and ethnic identity. My series of photographic portraits of Asian-Americans in my community has been supported in two main ways. I’ve been using the Sociology department to dig into the Asian-American experience through really influential classes like Jean Wu’s class Asian America and Michelle Holliday-Stocking’s Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Through those classes I’ve been able to work with concrete evidence and think about ways to translate those data into a photographic body of work—exposing the human faces behind the statistics we see and the policies we read about.

The other angle is my Photography classes. Through those classes I’ve delved into techniques like large format, which seemed intimidating at first given the amount of time that goes into a single image. But as I pushed further into the technique, I saw that time investment—the deliberate nature of making the image—as a real asset. I also got exposed to the work of artists like Sally Mann and Dawoud Bey who use large format portraiture in very different ways. It helped me to think even more critically about the way the subject interacts with the photographer and how I can more thoughtfully catch aspects of my subjects.

As a Filipino-American and an Asian-American, I’ve really found the opportunity to draw not just on the resources of my classes, but also on a community of people who share different facets of a similar experience. Through publications like Voices (the literary and visual arts magazine published by the Tufts Asian Student Coalition) I’m able to work with other Asian-American students coming from very different backgrounds to consider how we represent ourselves through forms like portraiture, poetry, memoir, fiction, and other forms of art.

- Rachel Orlang, BFA