Interview With Photographer Andy Lurie of The American Quilt Project

Can you share a bit about how you came to explore photography and what the journey was like to gain your skills?

I learned by doing. When I was 17, I shot a photo of an Indian man in the village of El Desemboque, Sonora, Mexico, and it came out very well. Ever since then I've been hooked on street portrait photography. When I was a kid, my mom used to take out the camera often for family pictures and my brothers and I would moan and groan. Little did I realize that I would eventually take on portrait photography as one of my life's passions.

Where did the idea to focus on taking portraits come from?
During the Trump years, I decided to contribute a counter narrative to the atmosphere of hate and division by making a photographic "quilt" of the faces of America. It was a way to show that we are all different together; strength in diversity.

What inspired the idea to package the portraits you take as The American Quilt Project? Was the idea for this project there from the beginning or did it arise after you had been shooting for awhile?
The idea for The American Quilt Project came as a way to rebound from a serious suicide attempt about 10 years ago as a result of going crazy from tinnitus. I needed connection; a way to get back with humanity, and a way to get back in touch with the art of photography.

Why did you choose the title The American Quilt Project for this body of work?

A photographic quilt of humanity seemed like the perfect metaphor for what I had in mind. It can grow and grow. Currently, after approximately 5 years, I'm approaching 5000 faces, or patches, if you will.

What do you hope others take away from viewing it? 

I hope that when people view it, they come away with a feeling of love for humanity in all its variations.

Video by Ernie Bjorkman of Colorado's Own 2 News

Where do you normally find people to photograph? How do you approach them for permission to not only take their photo, but publish it on Instagram? Do most people say yes

I go to places where people congregate and are having fun or are relaxed. I always ask permission first and give them a business card. I briefly explain the project and answer any questions that they may have. I would say that about 90% of people say yes. It seems that the recognition makes them feel good and they always thank me.

What about working on this project comes easy and what is the most difficult for you?

Working on The American Quilt Project, in all of it's stages, always feels like a labor of love.

What are your plans as this project grows. Can we look forward to a website or even a coffee table book? 

I would love to do an autobiographical documentary about me and the story of The American Quilt Project some day. It would also stand to reason that a coffee table book could follow.

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  1. I love the premise and this project so much! What an inspiring catalyst to occur from a negative experience. 🤩

    1. I totally agree, the reason I reached out for an interview. He's amazing!


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