Oregon-based artist and photographer Rob Woodcox creates passionate work that blends his creativity with his own life experiences. As someone who was adopted as a young baby and rescued from abuse, Woodcox strives to raise awareness for others in need.
Stories Worth Telling is a powerful series of slightly surreal photographs that visually tells the stories of foster kids and also helps to raise funds so that the children can attend camp and participate in a year-round mentoring program. Woodcox says the purpose of the project is to “bring light to the need for foster parents, adoptions, and volunteer work relating to these children in need.”
The incredibly powerful images of the young ones who are lost, tangled in branches, shattered in broken mirrors, or struggling through the world will touch your heart. (It's important to note that foster kids cannot be photographed, so Woodcox uses volunteers and models to stand in as his subjects.) Throughout the series, Woodcox depicts the children as brave adventurers and dreamers who stand strong against the struggles that they are forced to face. Woodcox says, “The series shifts from darker images of loss and brokenness, to images where these children find community and love and hope.”
We had the fortunate opportunity to ask the artist a few questions about his work. Be sure to check out that interview, below.
Can you please tell us more about the meaning behind the series and why you created it?
I began creating Stories Worth Telling after attending a foster camp as a counselor. I was like a parent for two boys for a week, two years in a row and I also mentored some of our campers for the year in-between. The experience was life changing to say the least and I got a very vivid, close experience of what these kids were facing. I was adopted when I was a baby, so although my situation was pretty dangerous, I was rescued prior to the age where I had memories of abuse. Being able to help these kids who were facing more than I could imagine made me want to do even more to tell their stories and raise awareness. The purpose of Stories Worth Telling is to bring light to the need for foster parents, adoptions, and volunteer work relating to these children in need.
Some great ways to get involved are to volunteer at a foster camp or mentor a child, or to consider adoption. Making donations to local places that help foster children is always great too! A few links you could check out if interested are:
Foster Camp: www.royalfamilykids.org
What kind of theme/direction were you going for?
When I was conceptualizing the series, I decided it was important to show foster children's struggles from their darkest points, through their most triumphant moments. The series shifts from darker images of loss and brokenness, to images where these children find community and love and hope. I chose to make the style slightly surreal so that any past or current foster child could relate to the story as an adventure, rather than a frightening struggle.
What was the most rewarding part of creating this series for you?
The most rewarding part of creating this series has to be the hundreds of messages I've received from past foster kids or current parents who foster and adopt. People are always saying they're inspired, encouraged and changed by seeing my work and I can't imagine a more rewarding way to use my art! One of my favorite messages was from a current parent with adopted kids who showed the series to her kids as well–she said the whole family was moved and encouraged by my images and that made every second of the process worth it.
I read that you ran an Indiegogo fundraiser campaign for a new location in Michigan for Royal Family Kids' Camps. Can you tell us a bit more about how that started and how it worked out?
Initially the goal of Stories Worth Telling was just to raise money for the new location of this foster camp; the Indiegogo where my friends and I raised $12,000 for that first year was the initial project, however since then I've realized that this opportunity to spread awareness goes much further, and even sharing this interview is a continuation of the project, keeping the message alive that foster children exist, are wonderful children, and need support from loving volunteers and homes.
What would be the one message you would send to foster kids out there?
My one message to any foster kids out there is that you are SO valuable and SO loved. Nothing anyone can say or do changes that, and someone is out there that wants to help you, be open to letting that person or family in!
What are you planning next?
I'm currently in a cross country trip to move to Portland. Once I settle down in January I'll be releasing a schedule of my U.S., Asian, and Australian workshop dates for 2015, and I'll also be working on continuing the Stories Worth Telling series, as well as releasing my series from Iceland!
You can follow my photography and adventures at the following places: