“The Boston Uncornered Photo Project,” an outdoor exhibit where large-scale portraits of former gang members are displayed alongside images of successful public figures, has a new home on Seaport Common.
The collection, which opened Tuesday and runs through Oct. 25, features more than 30 black-and-white images with familiar faces including Mayor Marty Walsh, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and Boston police commissioner William Gross next to Bostonians who also overcame difficult situations. Each 5-by-8-foot photo is accompanied by a small quote from the subject, explaining how he or she came out on the other side of trauma. Some of the quotes reference gang violence, sexual abuse, or alcoholism.
Ron Hopkins, the subject of one portrait, said every image is a “snippet of the full story.”
The images show “some of the journeys that people in the pictures took, where they came from, where they’re going,” said Hopkins, a college readiness adviser for Boston Uncornered.
College Bound Dorchester, a nonprofit that helps gang-involved youth graduate from college, partnered with PJA Advertising + Marketing to create the exhibit. It is almost identical to the one erected last year on Boston Common but includes some new images. The towering photos are now lined along a public walkway, located minutes by foot from the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Mark Culliton, the CEO of College Bound, said the goal of the collection is to highlight everyone’s shared humanity.
“We are all people,” he said after the Tuesday morning opening. “If we can understand that gang-involved young people are no different than you and I, then maybe we can have the courage to support them to be agents of change.”
Acclaimed sports photographer John Huet asked subjects to visualize their stories while being photographed. But he did not speak with them about their experiences until after the shoot, he said, because he didn’t want the work “jaded” by the conversation.
“That’s why some of them look vulnerable; some of them look proud; some of them look defiant. It shows where they were.”
A few passersby stopped to admire the portraits during Tuesday’s opening.
Boston University freshman Emily Dewhurst said the collection reminded her of @humansofny, a popular Instagram account that documents people’s lives with photos and lengthy captions.
“I love reading people’s stories,” she said. “And I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the ‘American dream,’ which this shows. It’s crazy how some people can change your life around but [others] aren’t given the same opportunities to do so.”