Lynn Johnson’s “The Geography of Hate” documents the locations where violent acts and the resulting deaths occurred between 1998 and 2017 within the United States.
Featuring: Lynn Johnson
Kurt Mutchler, Senior Photo Editor
In 2000, Lynn Johnson began documenting the places where extreme acts of violence took place in the United States for her Master’s degree thesis at the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. Her project, “Hate Kills,” took her to locations where hate crimes had occurred, such as the scene where white supremacists murdered James Byrd, Jr., an African American, by chaining him to a pickup truck and dragging him on the road.
“I used that very dark documentary approach—that style—for my thesis,” she explained. She continued this approach while photographing, “The Science of Good and Evil”, for National Geographic magazine’s 2018 January issue. Johnson found that this assignment centered on listening. “There is just listening to the place, the space, the terrain, the invisible presence of what is left there,” she said.
“I think it’s so germane because as a country, we are experiencing more violence, more toxicity in our relationships with each other,” Johnson said. In 2017, there were 30 active shooter incidents in the United States killing 138 and wounding 591, according to the FBI.
Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, Johnson is known for finding meaning in elusive, difficult subjects—threatened languages, zoonotic disease, the power of cannabis and the brain science of altruism and violence. She collaborates with the people she portrays. At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth around the world find their creative voices. At Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, she has developed a mentoring program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their own truth, frame by frame.
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