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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Tamara Knox’s photography is ‘Thriving’ in the Russ Solomon Gallery
(Left to right) Rhonda Rios Kravitz, Tamara Knox, Patricia Sokolowski and Michie Dawn Kuratomi Bubano gather together to celebrate the Thrivers Exhibition soft opening on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Neezy Jeffery / [email protected]

The photo exhibition “Thrivers” has opened in the Russ Solomon Gallery by photographer Tamara Knox, former Express photojournalist, and former City College photo instructional assistant. This exhibit features photos of individuals that have survived trauma in their lives, transformed their story and are now “thrivers” within their own communities. 

“Thrivers are folks that have experienced past traumas and they decided to use that knowledge to share with the community and do all this amazing work,” Knox said to describe the subjects featured at the exhibit. 

The Russ Solomon Gallery is located on the second floor of the Student Services Building on the City College campus and entry is free and open to the public during school hours.

This exhibit also features handwritten notes under each photograph, on which subjects wrote empowering messages of encouragement to themselves and to the audience. This process is called narrative therapy and Knox has adapted this process into her photography to create a space for people to heal from their past experiences through writing. 

The Thrivers Exhibition by Tamara Knox displays 17 photos of selected subjects with their own handwritten notes under each photograph in the Russ Solomon Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. The exhibition encompasses people who overcame hardships in their lives and have transformed into thrivers in their own communities. Photo credit: Neezy Jeffery / [email protected]

“This is an experience that shows all the barriers that we can overcome,” said Rhonda Rios Kravitz, dean of the Learning Resources Division. “That we are here to make change and to make a difference.” 

Kravitz encouraged Knox to apply for the Seeding Creativity Grant with the City of Sacramento’s Office of Arts and Culture to further Knox’s mission to create safe spaces to explore trauma-informed photography for the sake of healing past traumatization. 

As a survivor to thriver herself, Knox reflects back on her journey of getting out of her own domestic abuse situation. 

“I stayed in my situation as long as I could take it. My dad wanted to just come grab me, just take me out of the situation, but someone told him that I have to want to go. When I really was ready, my dad and my brother were there one or two days later to come pick me up,” Knox explains, “Once I did ask for [help], I got the support and beyond.”

Knox’s son Shamar Knox can attest to watching his mother’s many triumphs that have encouraged and inspired him to walk the same path. “I’m so proud of my mom,” Shamar Knox said. “When I see her doing great things like this, I’m right behind her wanting to do the same for myself.”

Tamara Knox and her son, Shamar Knox listen to photography subjects speak about their experiences on the project at the Thrivers Exhibition soft opening on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Neezy Jeffery / [email protected]

Knox is continuing her narrative therapy work with a credential from the Academy of Certified Social Workers, as the director of ethics and social responsibility in media for Ethical Narrative. Ethical Narrative is a documentary storytelling organization that focuses on fully supporting the stories and experiences of each storytelling participant. 

Knox collaborated with City College’s Photography and Visual Journalism Department, with the assistance of Vhonn Encarnacionto, a photo instructional assistant, to make her story-driven imagery come to fruition. 

Tamara Knox with Vhonn Encarnacion, City College’s photo instructional assistant, who helped with the exhibition behind the scenes, at the Thrivers Exhibition soft opening on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Neezy Jeffery / [email protected]

The Thrivers exhibition is part of a series of work in Knox’s book, “Survivors to Thrivers” available on the Ethical Narrative website.

“I’ve watched Tamara as a young student, who had gone through an incredible amount of trauma, to this powerful woman who has been able to give back in significant ways,” Kravitz says on her history with Knox adding, “So to be part of her project for me was so rewarding.”

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About the Contributor
Neezy Jeffery
Neezy Jeffery, Multimedia Editor
As a visual multimedia editor and photographer, Neezy works to utilize digital design paired with the Express’ articles, photos and videos to bring awareness to topics happening on campus and in the community that matter to City College students. 
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