#MCM: Jourdan Christopher

Jourdan Christopher is a documentary and street photographer based in Boston, Massachusetts. From the rows of the train to the concrete of the streets, focusing on images themed around race, class, gender and normality as well as deep involvement in community activism, Jourdan creates visuals which place you before images as though in the moment itself. He has been featured in the Boston Globe, Boston.com, and a number of galleries throughout the city of Boston. Travelling within, around, and beyond the city to capture images that present life as it naturally and magically exists, Jourdan strives to tell stories through word and image that make each viewer — if only for a moment — consider life and experiences beyond their own. He earned his BA in Rhetorical Studies and Philosophy from Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine and currently attends the New England School of Photography in Boston, Massachusetts.

Follow Jourdan via Facebook, Instagram and his Website.

Who has been your most influential mentor?

My mother. Hands down. That woman single-handedly raised my four sisters and myself, as well as a couple of other relatives at various points. She left college when she found out about lil’ ole me’s pending arrival — I remember her sitting me down one day and telling me that she was going back to school because she refused to be in college at the same time as her child (referencing UPN show The Parkers, with Monique…Y’all remember, Moesha spinoff). The next day she was giving me instructions on how to not burn down the house warming up dinner, and she was off. Within four years she got her Bachelor’s, Masters, and a good portion of her PhD in Education. I could go on for days about the strength and intelligence within her (and passed down to me and my siblings) but shortly put, she has stood a firm reminder of defiance of any definition placed on me by any other than myself.

How did you get where you are today?

Photo: Jourdan Christopher, a part of his “Strangers in Boston” photo series

At first I wasn’t moving, I was just dissatisfied with my life. I worked a job I hated, honestly, had a few people in my life that needed to go. Depression is something I’ve dealt with all of my life (as have many more than would ever admit it). At a point, enough was enough. I know my potential, and know what stagnation does to such aptitude. So I crawled. Now I’m sort of walking, sometimes jogging (currently with a camera). I can tell you, from experience, both are much better than sitting still. I can only imagine where I’ll be once I can fly. Seriously, though, I’ve always been able to quickly acquire and master skills. I’m a DJ, a barber, writer, singer and musician, photographer, and more. I learned of this dude named “Jack” who’d not been able to master as many trades as he’d acquired over time. And for some reason I wanted to prove that narrative wrong. It’s driven me quite insane at times, but in the process of finding myself I have cast a wide net over the ocean of art and patiently awaited my catch. The more I grow into myself, the more I see each of the mediums I use as an extension of a part of that whole.

The more I grow into myself, the more I see each of the mediums I use as an extension of a part of that whole.

It sounds so simple, but I’ve still got bills. So there has to be a balance. I take my dreams and envelope them in pragmatism, often in the forms of other people in my life who guarantee I don’t drift too deeply into my own mind. People who have chosen to take that journey alongside me, of truly searching and seeking to know themselves. Most never start that journey and/or can knock you off of your trajectory. So “I pick my friends like I pick my fruit”, ya know?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ve got a lot of ideas I’m beginning to activate, and think that in 5 years I’ll have many more gray hairs from this pursuit of…idk…purpose, I think. Right now, I’m a writer and photographer. These are the mediums I’ve committed to, in my transition into my life as an Artist. The process seems chaotic, but I planned this years ago. I’d like to let the authenticity of my transitional experience serve as the basis for a platform and support system to help others stuck in that world out there find peace within themselves, through artistic expression. That’s all I’ll say on that, because I like surprising people. In 5 years, though, I’ll be 30. I’ll have filled in all of the puzzle pieces in this squad I’m looking to put together of lethal storytellers of color who gift the world with the truth of the complexity of our existences.

…I’m looking to put together (a squad) of lethal storytellers of color who gift the world with the truth of the complexity of our existences

Those many portions of our lives omitted by mainstream media, as they cast us in the same classic form of old Hollywood.

What about this city inspires you?

Nowadays, most leaves fall in silence. No real conversation between them about the fall, or the lessons learned on the way down. If not looking, one could completely miss the most transformative and expressive moments of the seasons and of those around it.

Finish these sentences:

Boston should be… Honest about where it is and how far it is from where it says it is. This city has so much greatness, but is so focused on maintaining an old way of operating that it oftentimes overlooks the aspects that actually make it the gem it is, in this 21st century.

Boston could be… Cohesively diverse. We’ve got the coexistence part down, but that cohesion is being countered by zoning and gentrification and the misallocation of resources, along with a series of other systems in place that hold specific peoples back and filters out much of the individuality, of mind and body. I know my answers seem quite themed, but this is the focus of my work. I spend every day looking at every corner of this city. It ain’t great until we each have the opportunity to pursue greatness. At the top, equality, at the bottom, activation and education. Then let’s meet in the middle and change some things. Sounds simple, right?

Boston wants to be… remembered in the history of that American Empire, that will one day be a relic of the past, as a city that was birthed and raised authhentically great.

Boston needs… to be true, to all of it’s inhabitants. This city is one of the academic (and some say intellectual) capitals of this nation. It also has one of the largest economic margins between the rich and poor that I’ve ever seen. “Boston Strong” should be a statement based on more than ephemeral unity around tragedy or this “every woman/man for themselves” mentality I see daily. Collectively, we — speaking in an inter-/intra-community sense, I believe that fantasy of Boston, the picture it tries to show everyone else, can be molded into more of a reality. Defeatist and Ivory Tower mentalities saturate this city so heavily it’s been pressed down into a dichotomy of “this or that” way of living. We’ve got to grow both tall AND wide, as a city and as individuals.

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