The Faces of Fortitude Project began October 2017 – in the effort to create and encourage cross trauma sharing and healing within the suicide loss/attempt and first responder communities. The portraits capture moments of immense grief and loss as well as rays of light and discoveries of hope that once were feared never would return.
How It Began
The Faces of Fortitude project aims to provide safe spaces for healing through interactive art pop-ups and exhibits, speaking events and one-on-one portrait sessions around the world. The mission of this ever evolving work is to provide an ongoing conversation that brings often stigmatized topics and issues, into the light and out of whispers. Connecting with people at moments of intense pain or joy – is part of our human nature.
It is our hope that, if someone out there finds themselves in space where they are faced with a moment in time where they are questioning if they want to be alive or not, and it feels too difficult to sit in that space alone…that they will remember this space where it was safe to share painful things out loud. Who knows, THAT could be just the light someone out there needs to see in order to stay.. just one more day.
Who is M
Photographer, TEDx speaker and mental health advocate M Abeo (they/them) lost their brother Jimmy to suicide when he was just 26 years old. Inspired by photographer and educator, Stacy Pearsall (of the Veterans Portrait Project ), M began the project initially as a way to help themselves process and heal, with little to no knowledge of photography or editing. The first portrait in the project was of themselves. When they released the photo online with their story, the response was shocking. People wanted to participate and have their stories shared. M educated themselves online to improve their photography, and to learn to edit their photos in order to be able to truly honor all of the courageous stories.
To date there are more than 170 Face of Fortitude and counting. The project continues to be shared in the form of art exhibits, speaking events and a podcast entitled: Faces of Fortitude: After the Sessions. M currently lives in the heart of Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood and is set to release the first edition Faces of Fortitude photography book, complete with photographers notes – early 2023.