‘Dreams Deferred’ Project Statement
a collaborative PhotoDocumentary Project inspired by Langston Hughes’ Poem ‘Harlem’
with Veronique Moses and Ariyah April Chambers
Photos taken by Veronique Moses
Magic marked in ink are the uncurbed dreams of a child, “when I grow up, I want to be a doctor, fashion designer, track star, a mother.” Our dreams evolve as we move through life, some remaining constant and others fading into time. As an adult, we may reconcile that there are no gold medals on the shelves or open-heart surgeries on the calendar, but what happens to the elusive dream that remains close and fleeting?
“Dreams Deferred,” titled from Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” is a photography-and writing-based storytelling project examining what becomes of a dream and the people behind them. It invites the viewer to bear witness externally, and to reflect internally. “Dreams Deferred” is a collaboration between two local photographers, Ariyah April and Veronique Moses, with the local community.
In his poem “Harlem,” Hughes asks: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—and then run?” April and Moses explore whether lifelong dreams chain us or lead us to hope.
“Dreams Deferred” profiles six dreamers analyzing their own big wins and big losses. No matter the circumstances or perceived external differences between them— and the viewers— the gut-survival need for dreaming is evident. With thought on their own elusive dream, dreamers set out to answer Hughes’ poignant question and to further identify their dreams with one of the potential scenarios Hughes leave us with. Moses and April have posed their six dreamers in a dual documentary portraiture reflecting both the weight and hope of such dreams and visually inspecting Hughes’ six potential scenarios.
Alongside the profiles, “Dreams Deferred” features an interactive and evolving installation collecting the community’s contributions over the course of the exhibit. All visitors are encouraged to record their own dreams on a piece of the installation, allowing them to (anonymously or not) speak their truths, share and reaffirm them. The community art piece symbolizing dreams still in flight signifies our collective dreams and strikes a profound statement about interconnection.
April and Moses are emerging documentary artists impassioned to continually share the stories of those whose voices often go unheard and undocumented. Their own experiences serve as the driving forces to expand this contextual lens aimed at frankly removing the perceived barriers around us.
“Dreams Deferred” embody the same humility and servitude when it comes to depicting the realities of its dreamers. The hope is that participants leave the exhibit with insights into their fellow humankind, as well as a sparked ignition for driving their own lives.