Tema Stauffer

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Cathy, Market Street, Paterson, NJ
Collection of the artist

I first noticed Cathy standing outside the boarding house where she and her uncle currently live on Market Street. Moved by the intensity of her expression, I asked if I could photograph her standing exactly where she was at that moment. She was cautious and guarded at first, but also seemed glad to be recognized. Cathy describes her mother as Blackfoot Cherokee Indian and her father as African American. Forty-three, she has spent most of her life in Paterson. Cathy is one of many residents whom I have photographed on the streets of Paterson during the years since America’s economic downturn in 2008. This series of street portraits serves as a record of a diverse population of Americans living in a historic city fraught with struggles and hardships and as a testament to the depth of human experience that is spoken through their faces.