Tarik Carroll, an exhibiting artist, is redefining beauty standards

Tarik Carroll, a New York-based photographer, body positivity activist, and visual artist, will be featured in the first exhibition in the Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Emerging Artist Series at Herron School of Art and Design. Carroll will also hold a public discussion about his work on March 23 and visit Herron classes to conduct workshops with students.

The exhibition will include works from The EveryMAN Project, which Carroll uses to challenge society's long-held masculinity stereotypes and empower men worldwide to feel more comfortable in their own skin.

We spoke with Carroll via email about the project and his residency at Herron, as well as how this is the first time his work has been shown in a cohesive installation at an art gallery.

HERRON: What inspires you to create your own personal brand of visual art centered on body positivity?

CARROLL: My inspiration stems from working in the fashion industry for 12 years and seeing the massive need for systemic change and reform regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation. Five years ago, I decided to dig deeper within myself and truly shift the subject matter of my photography. I decided to create with intention by crafting imagery that showcased and celebrated a broader spectrum of body types and gender identities but also work that felt authentic, elevated, and ultimately healing for myself and others who look like me.

HERRON: Tell us about The EveryMAN project. What is the backstory to this photo series?

CARROLL: The EveryMAN project is a visual conversation about male aesthetics. This project is geared towards creating a safe space that I hope will liberate men worldwide from self-hate.

I create visuals that spark much-needed conversations about body diversity, representation in media of all male body types, toxic masculinity, and mental health. My goal has always been to challenge society's obsession with hyper masculinity and perfection by capturing men/male-identifying individuals from all backgrounds, orientations, personal classifications, races, and colors.

HERRON: Which aspect of creating or sharing these images is your favorite?

CARROLL: This being my first residency and solo show, I am beyond excited to finally present my images printed on a large scale for the public to consume. To see everything come to life in the physical printed form is exhilarating.

HERRON: What ideas about diversity, equity, and inclusion should visitors take away from your exhibition when they visit the Marsh Gallery? 

CARROLL: I would love to take this opportunity to circle back to the title, "EveryBODY IS A GOOD BODY." I want visitors to leave the exhibition feeling a sense of empowerment, self-acceptance, and truly understand the power of representation and inclusion.

HERRON: What does the opportunity to participate in an exhibition, a speaking event, and workshops with Herron students mean to you?

CARROLL: This opportunity gives me a chance to connect with young creatives and inspire those on their own journey to self-love and self-acceptance. I hope to be impactful and offer words of support and affirmation for those who use their medium of expression as a way of activism.

From March 23 to April 26, "Tarik Carroll–EveryBODY IS A GOOD BODY: The RE-formation of Beauty Standards" will be on display in Eskenazi Hall's Marsh Gallery. In addition to the in-person experience, an online virtual tour of the exhibition will be available.