AWAKEN: A photo book that explores a vulnerable story of healing.
Caught in a haunting cycle of confusion, grief, and a desire for courage, I found myself struggling to rise above the expansive surface of such heavy emotions. Noble is the intention that prioritizes healing above comfort, yet in its glowing optimism this intention fails to fully anticipate its own reality of tear-filled nights and endless uncertainty. Out of this inescapable pain an enduring journey towards pleasure-filled life was born, and with it came my inspiration for AWAKEN. Woven into the threads of these pages is a visual letter to past, present, and future selves that has the ability to connect with the emotional consciousness in all of us.
I’m Sarah Rose, the author of AWAKEN.
I want to let you in on a little bit of the story behind this project.
My formative years were spent being seduced by the belief that sexual purity was paramount to a life of abundant blessing. There was no reason to doubt that preserving something as precious as my sexuality would ensure its safety, and those who advocated this worldview appeared to mean well. As someone who received enjoyment from following rules and being a role model, I never questioned the theology behind these beliefs. It wasn’t until adulthood that I began to realize how many pieces were left missing. Instead of experiencing abundant freedom in my sexuality, I felt confusion and disconnect. Intimacy often pulled me out of my body and into a suffocating headspace. Held captive by the perpetual conversation inside my mind, the idea of total surrender felt unachievable. I questioned my intentions as desire began to feel inauthentic, and it was here that my journey to healing took a leap into the unknown.
Throughout this season of discovery, I’ve allowed myself to become reacquainted with the idea of sexuality. The diverse layers of this process inspired my vision for AWAKEN and released energy from an intangible place. It gave me permission to simply exist with my pain instead of seeking constant change. I’m grateful for the way this project offered avenues for expression and encouraged perseverance. Freedom often still feels distant, but I find myself recognizing its presence a little easier each time it appears.
Creating AWAKEN was an opportunity to document my own story while extending a hand to anyone in the midst of growth.
Unable to escape the weight of experience, I drew inspiration from the physical nature of my humanity. The way quiet tears fell on my pillow, the repeated sighs that brushed past my lips, and the stinging tension under my chest. Exploring these feelings through a creative process enabled me to step outside of my head and into a living, breathing space. The challenge of translating abstract concepts into tangible photographs caused me to be mindful of how emotion lives in visible form. I became sensitive to how my body felt in moments of grief, anger, tranquility, and strength, embracing the perseverance of the heartbeat that drove my breath home.
The photographs, paintings, and words on these pages weave through powerful emotions, pulling them into immersive artistry and creating a dynamic representation of healing. AWAKEN stands alone as an artistic endeavor while also being able to expand into something greater than itself. Creating a persuasive argument for self-discovery, it compels its audience to face their own vulnerabilities. My hope is that this book lives a unique story with each person who experiences its pages and offers respite from the loneliness that growth often leaves behind.
The artists who contributed their time and talent to this book have my heart’s fullest gratitude. Without them, AWAKEN would not be what it is today. Much of the final vision for the book was still unknown to me when I reached out to them with ideas, and I’m forever indebted to the way they all so graciously gave of themselves and sought to make sense of the scattered pieces.
Rachel’s abstract paintings were really the catalyst for this book becoming a reality; it was a conversation with her that led to my initial spark of inspiration for a photo book project. Her work in AWAKEN is a beautiful combination of perfection and chaos: characteristics of any healing journey. My friends Hana, Meredith, and Alayna modeled my vision to perfection and gave their stories as the inspiration behind the multiple letters you’ll find in AWAKEN. I’m so grateful for the way they brought their own vulnerabilities to our photoshoots, drawing similarities and differences between their stories and mine. I found myself entranced in honest conversations as we worked together, and I love that live emotion that was captured as a result. Lillie and Dayson worked magic with the models’ interviews, using their own voices to craft letters addressed to the healing human in all of us. I daresay that this was the most difficult piece of this project, but Lillie and Dayson handled my vague request with such grace and talent. And finally, last but not least, Alison and Brea (Artemea) took time to write poetry that reflected my heart and fit seamlessly with the photographs. Their work pulled AWAKEN together into the cohesive blend of word and imagery that I had dreamed of, and I’m so honored to include their artistry in this book.
Share Your Story
I deeply hope that this book finds a home in the heart of every human that reads it. Please, if you’d like to share more about your experience with AWAKEN or your thoughts about it, click here reach out to me and I’d love to talk more.