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Sierra Belmares in the studio. April 2022

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My sibling, Johnica “Johni” Hubbard, 16, of Knoxville, Tenn. poses for a portrait in their bedroom in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Hubbard has created art since they began elementary school and plan to pursue art as a career after graduating high school. When asked about their creative process, Hubbard said they just “kind of boogy around” and express whatever they are feeling on paper or canvas. “I feel like my sexuality can definitely play a role in my art. I like drawing female bodies and showing all different types of women, rather than men,” Hubbard said.

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Dominic O'Korn in the studio. March 2022

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When Missy Johnson first began bingeing and purging regularly in high school, she felt ashamed and isolated from society. Johnson was soon diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa and started her journey towards recovery. Although she is still continuing to recover from her eating disorder, Johnson focuses on loving her body, and uses tattoos as a form of self-expression. "I just felt so ashamed, I just didn't want to admit I was broken to anyone else. Having any type of mental illness can make you feel like you're just unlovable or like no one will want to be around you because you're going through some serious shit, but I think my tattoos just help me feel more at home in my body. It's just a way for me to always remember I've been through hell and back, so what's gonna stop me now," Johnson said.

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Abdullah Alshahri, a junior in the engineering program at Western kentucky University, has been in the United States since 2013. “I used to watch a lot of American movies, like action movies, so when I came here I thought it would be more crazy and exciting,” he said. “It was hard to make friends at first because of the language. I only knew a little English so it was harder to talk to people at first, especially strangers. I found friends though. In the International Center there are people that understand my language and my home so it feels good.” 

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Eric Vasquez in the studio. Feb. 2020