Natalie Brasington is one of Resource Magazine‘s Chief Photographers and co-founder of The Art Start Portrait Project, which offers homeless and court-involved New York City teens, who rarely have access to the arts, the opportunity to create empowering dreams of their future and show the world how they want to be seen. For “The Humanity Issue” of Resource Magazine, Brasington stepped in as our Guest Editor to curate a selection of imagery captured over the past few years of the project, photographed by an all-star lineup of contributing photographers including Andrew Eccles, David Lang, Martin Schoeller, David Johnson, Tom McKenzie, Mauricio Quintero, and more.

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“I like the idea of life…people just doing them, just living. I get inspired by other people. It makes me think more about the bigger meaning. I love my thoughts and I love my life. They define me and give me strength.” Photo by Tom McKenzie, The Art Start Portrait Project, 2014

A unique aspect of these projects is that the production is intertwined with the commercial photography industry, structured to relieve volunteers of the planning and expenses that come with a professional photo shoot,” Brasington writes. “This process has empowered dozens of industry leading photographers and stylists to volunteer their time and talent, made possible by the continued support of industry partners like Anyway Reps, Rosemont Press, DCOY Studios, and Industrial Color Brands. From the inception of the program, Fast Ashleys Studios has made The Portrait Project possible with their generous support and donations of equipment and studio space.” 

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“I’m wearing a mask in the photograph so no one can see my face and see my father’s daughters are in a homeless shelter. I love that I’m wearing a mask and still look beautiful.” Photo by Natalie Brasington, The Art Start Portrait Project, 2014

Art Start began in the spring of 1991, when a group of artists got together to make art with homeless kids. Since then, it’s been 25 years of utilizing the creative process to nurture the voices, hearts, and minds of New York City’s underserved youth through consistent creative workshops inside homeless shelters, alternative to incarceration programs, and partnering youth agencies.

In 2013 The Art Start Portrait Project/Family Portrait Project was founded, aimed to provide Art Start youth and families with access to beautiful professional photography and tackling a pervasive issue: Art Start families and children see themselves very differently from how much of society sees, or “looks,” at them. These projects offer a platform for participants to show a broader audience how they see themselves and how they wish to be seen.

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“If you want to piss the world off—love. If you want to make them look at you really bad, and you want to be a real rebel—love. Those are the rebels, the lovers, because they don’t let anything get in the way of them being beautiful.” Photo by David Johson, The Art Start Portrait Project, 2015

To support Art Start’s mission, Brasington’s image “Fleur” will be sold as a limited edition 11×14 archival print. Simply click here to make a donation of $50 or more with the comment “Resource 50 for 50” to receive your print. Only 50 prints in total will be sold!