It’s a bold statement to compare someone to W. Eugene Smith. But when Andre Hermann brought his work to the reviewing table at the Academy of Art, and showed his 10 images, I was emotionally sucker punched.
It was not just the situation of the subject, Garrett, it was the way his story was told.
With an intimacy, a story and heart. A classic journalistic approach.
The photographs are reminiscent of the Minamata photographs of William Eugene Smith and the situation that was being revealed of the mercury poisoning in Japan. We didn’t know much about the mercury poisoning either, as we are uninformed about EB. This photo journalistic rising star has reached deep into himself and brought out a story which, when viewed in full, will leave you drained. Don’t know the last time I was so moved by a set of photographs.
This photo essay of (10) matted 13.5×16 photographs tells the story of an 11-year old boy named Garrett, his family and the challenges of everyday life they face because of a crippling disease. He was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), (pronounced Epi-derm-o-ly-sis Bull-o-sa,) a genetic skin disorder in which his body does not produce the protein that helps to anchor the layers of skin together resulting in blistering, and large patches of deep tissue erosion.
Through Garrett and his family, I will attempt to give a face to this horrific, and unpublicized disease. People need to see, and be aware of this disease, the profound struggles that it creates, how it affects children as individuals, and the family as a whole. Short life spans (parents outliving their children), constant pain, suffering and exorbitant medical bills make for an extremely tough but manageable life.
NOTE: It is important when viewing these photos not to mistake Garrett for a burn victim. People with EB could only wish to be that lucky. In the case of EB victims there is no light at the end of the tunnel in regards to recovery.
[photopress:garrett1.jpg,full,centered]Â© Andre Hermann
Here is a short video with more images.
And he is only at the midpoint of his Academy of Art education.
Next up, one more students work. It was a fruitful day.