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dirtykics – In Order to Live


Journey through the lens of Toledo artist James "dirtykics" Dickerson. This unique and intimate portrayal of life in Toledo beckons viewers to take a closer look at people's lives through spontaneous encounters and film photography. Each image tells a story of the dynamic stories of the people of Toledo and the unique journeys that life leads them through.

James “dirtykics” Dickerson is a street photographer focusing on Black Americans living in the Central City  in Toledo, Ohio. Beginning around 2016, he started documenting his encounters on Toledo streets. These encounters were spontaneous, and he approached them with a listen first, photograph second mentality. His hope is that this collection of photographs encourages privileged eyes to check their biases about the communities that surround them. James has shown work at River House Arts, Gathered Glassblowing Studio, Toledo School for the Arts, and Communica. His work has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, the New York Times, and by Columbia University and The Ohio State University. As a self-taught photographer, he has learned that once you see life through a camera lens, it changes everything you understand about yourself and others.

Artist Statement:

To me, a photograph is a sibling of time and is meant to preserve the grains of our history. With a camera in my hands, I hold life through a lens as a documentary photographer. A photograph can change everything you understand about yourself. Be it an image of family from the 1980s or an image of a departed stranger requested by their family for sentimental value, these moments influence my next frame. Fueled by a mix of duty and obsession, my work is made of the essence of our communities.


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