Crazy and Proud
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Crazy and Proud is the inside story of an invisible place, an inner-city shelter for transient, mentally-ill women. This first-person narrative chronicles what happened in 1999 when Lowell Handler, after his successful memoir Twitch and Shout, was hired as a recreation worker to teach photography to this hidden population. This was not the first time he’d been drawn to social work, but found pretty quickly that working at the shelter was not the experience he thought he’d signed on for. While the news reported a war on drugs, a war in the Balkans, and a fight to uphold American values, Lowell found himself embedded on the front lines of poverty, addiction, and prejudice. The shelter served as a way station in the crossfire. The women at the shelter were present without being accounted for, living without any viable means of support. They moved through this passage without a home or job or even the certainty their own minds could be trusted. In the year that followed, the women not only learned about photography but found validation in seeing their perspectives documented. In the photographs the women allowed Lowell to take of them, they become visible, accounted for, and recognizable to themselves. Many of these photographs accompany the narrative, along with a short film and some audio.