Breaking Stigma for a Better World
The world could use a lot more people like photographer Dez Murray. A whole lot more. We could also use a lot more initiatives like her eye-opening Breaking Stigma. If, that is, the world wants a better world.
And isn’t that just what we all want? Of course it is. And if the world takes a page (or a photo) from Murray’s campaign, that’s indeed just what we’ll get. The portrait series, which runs on both Facebook and Instagram, is designed to change the way the world views addiction. And by putting a face and a story to the disease, it creates a deep sense of empathy and compassion for addicts. It also provides a deep sense of empathy and compassion for all that they and their loved ones suffer. Then again, as the following interview will attest, Murray’s one of those folks for whom empathy and compassion aren’t simply buzzwords, but actual callings — callings which drive her work, as well as her life.
It is with great gratitude that we at Healing Properties share the story of Dez Murray and Breaking Stigma.
Breaking Stigma: The Interview
What’s the bright idea behind Breaking Stigma?
Breaking Stigma is a visual representation of individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease of addiction and recovered. The purpose of this body of work is to challenge the way we see addiction in our society.
Where did the idea spring from?
I believe that art can be used to make forward movement of social ideas. Allowing society to see the person vs having an opinion about a fictional character.
Where did you get the participants?
I went live on FB and Instagram, explained the concept and next thing I knew I was flooded with answers.
How did COVID-19 impact the initiative?
For a while strongly, but we adapted and began doing weekly webcasts that will continue on!
Have there been any additional changes since?
Yes, we have expanded towards [other] areas where stigma is alive — mental Illness and domestic violence.
What are your plans for this once everybody’s allowed back out and about?
I want Breaking Stigma to challenge the perception of those diagnosed with a disease. I want our society to be better able to respond to a human need and I want to see these conversations become much more common.
What would you say you’ve learned from Breaking Stigma?
That we need to get much better at responding to those in our life who are struggling.
In what way do you think it’s helped others?
I think it opens up the dialogue in their lives and gives them a space to be brave.
How can people help continue with the effort?
Liking, commenting and sharing! We would also love to invite those farther away on the webcast!
Do you have one overriding goal in mind?
I want our conversations with the people in our lives to go deeper. To be able to respond to our friends/family/community members with understanding, compassion and good knowledge.
Note: Healing Properties would also like to thank Max Hofer at Sioux Falls’ KELO for bringing Breaking Stigma to our attention.
Note 2: (Above photograph) “Adam” by Dez Murray from the series Breaking Stigma