With a pocket full of film and her camera in hand, Annie Appel set out on a mission to give the 99 percent a voice.
Around 7 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2011, she took her first picture.
His name was Marco. He had been Occupying Los Angeles for 12 days.
With only his eyes visible as bandannas covered his face, Appel asked him what his greatest hope was in this global movement toward change.
She was shocked at the words that came from underneath the cloth barrier.
"Free education," he said.
For more than eight months, visiting 12 cities in eight states, Appel continued to capture the faces of the people who call themselves the 99 percent. Now those portraits can be seen at Gallery 381 in San
"I knew that I just wanted the person to have a chance to speak their mind," says Appel, 51, who received her bachelor's of fine arts degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and her master's from Cal State Fullerton.
"My goal is for people to be able to look at the pictures and read each activist's ideas for a better world and to be inspired to continue questioning the way that things are now and working toward creating change in their day-to-day lives."
The exhibit features all black-and-white portraits of people who attended the Occupy events with their answer, like Marcos' "Free education," printed below.
The Occupy Wall Street movement describes its supporters as having one commonality: the desire to fight against the "corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations," according to its website.
People began occupying Liberty Square in Manhattan on Sept. 17, 2011. Since then the movement has spread to more than 100 U.S. cities.
The photo essay came to an end a few weeks ago at the NATO protests in Chicago.
Ask the same question of Appel that she asked those activists around the country - what do you hope will come from this movement - and she says: "I hope for a world defined by our actual need for food, shelter and security rather than a world defined by what we perceive as our differences."
But the issue that concerns many participants of the Occupy movement is not only the financial inequality plaguing America, it's also war, health care, education, banking scandals and housing problems,
Because of these vast ideas and her desire to have each activist's thoughts be heard, the photos have a minimalist feel.
The viewer is presented with an almost life-size picture of the person. With this, she says, people are forced to face their inner stereotyping, like she faced when she photographed Marco. Appel didn't expect him, looking the way he did, she says, to have such an enlightened answer.
Appel says the mainstream media's portrayal of the Occupy movement and those involved has been inaccurate. She says she came across people from all walks of life, all nationalities, all genders, those unemployed and those from the professional world as well.
"I think the ideas represented by the
"It's left me filled with a sense of satisfaction and hope for the future having worked beside so many bright and dedicated and loyal people that are really actively engaged in their civic commitment to bring about an awareness."
Aside from the exhibit, Appel is reaching out to publishers to release a book featuring the entire photo essay. She says she hopes that some day the work can act as a reminder of when the country started to get back on the right track.
"Within the Occupy group the emphasis is on each individual acting toward the change that they want in the world," Appel says.
"One of the great things about Occupy and about this work, is 100 years from now, when someone picks this book up and looks at it, they will say, `Oh that's where it all began, that's where it all started.' It's a record of the beginning."
Stephanie Cary 310-540-5511, Ext. 6630 firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Occupy Portraits
What: Photographer Annie Appel's exhibit featuring her photo essay on the Occupy movement.
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Sunday, or by appointment, through Aug. 31.
Where: Gallery 381, 381 W. Sixth St., San Pedro.
Information: 310-809-5082 or www.theoccupyportraits.com.