A heart opening discussion with Nashville photographer Dan Heller on his new project Seen. A powerful and compelling new collection of fine-art portraits which offer glimpses into the complex healing journeys of survivors of sexual abuse.
Commissioned by the Sexual Assault Center of Middle Tennessee, documentary photographer Dan Heller conceived the project as a series of collaborations between artist and subject—a means to share nuanced recovery experiences and emotions that would otherwise remain hidden.
The result: Survivors stepped into the light, broke free of reductive stereotyping and revealed authentic inner worlds, untethered by judgments and cultural overlays. Survivors are truly seen–not reduced to one event, trauma, or circumstance, but viewed as courageous, strong, resilient and whole humans, sometimes raw and vulnerable, ultimately sharing unfiltered truths for all the world to see. Shaping their own images, telling their own stories, and defining their own spaces, SEEN survivors embody the essence of courage and hope. They achieve a greater sense of power and balance within themselves, and become an inspiration to others.
Dan has held five solo exhibitions of his documentary and fine art photography. His images have been selected numerous times for the annual “Best of Photography” issues of Nashville Arts Magazine and The Nashville Scene. He has photographed for The Goffin-King Foundation, CURB/Warner and at ASCAP, and captured candid backstage moments for numerous artists at The Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame.
He has photographed a wide range of musicians, including Grammy winners John Jorgenson and Pam Tillis, famed rock guitarist Charlie Sexton, as well as hip hop legends Salt N’ Pepa, Vanilla Ice and Coolio. Commissioned assignments include photographing iconic Irish leader Gerry Adams and Pete Buttigieg, among other public figures, as well as documentary projects in Portugal and Panama. Dan’s 25-day road trip through Cuba in 2016 led to a three-month photography exhibition with renowned photojournalist John Partipilo.
In 2020, award-winning journalist Natasha Senjanovic chose one of Dan’s portraits as the cover photo for her Pulitzer Center-backed project examining the effects of the pandemic on domestic and sexual violence.
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Paul Samuel Dolman, author, podcaster, and speaker, presents What Matters Most (the book!) a series of interview transcriptions from more than twenty inspirational Nashville and Tennessee residents, including special guest the journalist and author Bill Moyers.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, former Governor Don Sundquist, Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, Grammy Award-winning entertainer Wynonna Judd, and many more share intimate and inspirational aspects of themselves.
This twentieth anniversary edition also features bonus material from thirty more notables from Tennessee, including local business owners, spiritual leaders, coaches, radio personalities, authors, and educators.