AJ Schnettler is a nonbinary, multi-racial photographer/printmaker born and raised on the south shore of Long Island. They decided to get a new perspective on life and education by moving to the West Coast for their BFA. They received their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography with a minor in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2019. Their work is based around what one does to provide self-acceptance, whether it is through identity or through the space surrounding them, and how to feel at peace; as well as work discussing mental health, specifically depression and anxiety in relation to body dysmorphia, and childhood trauma. Their printmaking work more specifically discusses the topics of depression and anxiety. They have shown work in APAture 2019, Academy Art Museum, Texas Photo Society and Proyectos Galeria.
Nonbinary is a term relatively new to the world, leaving many people unaware of the word’s meaning. Nonbinary is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female”. As someone who identifies as nonbinary and knows multiple nonbinary identifying people, I understand each person has a different relationship to the word. People identify this way regardless of race, sexuality, or assigned gender, but what ties us together is how we identify. This piece originated as how I would come out to my family, but has expanded into representing this diverse community to portray that there is no singular way to be nonbinary.
The people who I am collaborating with for this series had their portrait taken on 120mm color positive film, which is known for its bright, saturated colors and parallels the positive celebration of these individually lived identities. Each portrait, which they have chosen of themselves, is presented next to each person’s statement on why they identify the way they do. This statement, printed in their handwriting, makes the piece more inviting and intimate for the viewer. The piece as a collection ultimately informs those who don’t know about the community in a non-threatening, non-inclusive approach welcoming people to learn with open arms. This piece, originally displayed on a wall, will be transforming into a book to allow the piece to be more accessible and involve more nonbinary people.