Portraits of Resilience
152 pp., 9 x 12 in, 43 duotones
- Published: November 16, 2017
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Photographs and stories of people who have coped with and overcome depression, anxiety, trauma, and other challenges.
"In MIT professor Daniel Jackson's recent book, Portraits of Resilience, being resilient means being vulnerable. It a gives a glimpse into how students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—one of the most competitive and elite universities in the world—cope, overcome, and find meaning in their lives."
—The Boston Globe
More than 15 million Americans grapple with depression in a given year, and 40 million are affected by anxiety disorders. And yet these people are often invisible, hidden, unacknowledged. At once a photo essay and a compendium of life stories, Portraits of Resilience brings us face to face with twenty-two extraordinary individuals, celebrating the wisdom they have gained on the frontline of a contemporary battle.
We hear from a young man who was struck with a debilitating sadness just when his life seemed to have turned around, and a medical student whose self-image was transformed by an antidepressant. We meet a physicist whose troubles led him to reassess the role human connection played in his life, an overachiever who developed one of her closest friendships in a mental hospital, and administrative assistant who grew up with an abusive parent but learned to heal and create a new life for herself.
No one is immune to depression or anxiety; all of these narrators achieved success as students, faculty, or staff in the demanding world of MIT. The pressures of a competitive and high-pressure environment will be familiar to many. And the mysterious and overwhelming grip of depression will be recognized by those who have suffered from it. But the search for purpose and meaning that pervades these stories is relevant to everyone. These wise people give us not only solace and reassurance as we face our own challenges, but also the inspiration that challenges can be overcome—and that happiness, while elusive, can eventually be found.
Portraits of Resilience is a profoundly beautiful book. I am deeply moved by the stories and the frankness and fearlessness with which they are told. The photographs add an exquisite emphasis to each individual's story, and it is clear that this work comes straight from the heart.
L. Rafael Reif, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In this rare and beautiful volume, Daniel Jackson creates luminous portraits that marry his evocative photographs with the powerful and soulful voices of his subjects, who are courageous and open-hearted in telling the stories of their long and arduous journeys through depression, recovery, and personal transformation. The portraits—at once revelatory and restrained, public testimony and intimate reflection—allow us to see and feel the vulnerability and strength, the trauma and the triumph in the storytellers' life narratives. In Portraits of Resilience we are witness to the power of the human spirit.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard University; author of The Art and Science of Portraiture and Respect: An Exploration
Daniel Jackson's powerful photographs combined with the rich stories accompanying them give us an intimate insight into a subject often filled with misconceptions and misunderstandings. The warmth and trust that are revealed in his portraits are a testament to Jackson's respect for and sensitivity to his subjects.
Connie Imboden, artist; author of Reflections: 25 Years of Photography, Beauty of Darkness, and Out of Darkness
Most photographs are histories: they record something that happened in the moment and likely can never be repeated. But Daniel Jackson's fine portraits and architectural studies do more. Together, they tell a story we can begin to understand. This is a moving book, in pictures and words, that recalls some of the fine 'photography with text' books that preceded it—Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, You Have Seen Their Faces, An American Exodus, and others.
Henry Horenstein, Professor, Department of Photography, Rhode Island School of Design
Daniel Jackson has embarked on an exploration of a timely issue, filled with compelling portraits and stories.
Keith Carter, Fine Art Photographer; Professor Emeritus, Lamar University; author of A Certain Alchemy
The stories are powerful… [the] photographs are otherworldly...
Jim Braude, WGBH