Perspectives: Faces of Florence

A Somali refugee protests outside a government building in Florence on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. She and many others had been displaced from an apartment building with no notice given by the government.

David LaBelle

Film and television producer Irvin Kershner once wrote, “There’s nothing more interesting than the landscape of the human face.” I couldn’t agree more.

While many are drawn to Florence’s Renaissance architecture, incredible museums or historical figures like Michelangelo, Dante and da Vinci, I find myself drawn to the layers of diverse faces on the streets of this ancient city. And while the grand stone buildings and cobblestone streets whisper to us about the past, it is the diverse faces of today, the living museums etched by past and present passions, that speak best of today’s victories and struggles.

It is in these faces — natives, tourists, immigrants, refugees from all over the earth — we see and feel the vitality of this amazing city. Above all, the human face is a deep container filled with many expressions, and a transmitter able to share emotions in a universal visual language. And as with any language, there are many subtle expressions in the shade of joy, sorrow, grief, anger or contempt.

While the language itself has been the primary challenge for most of the 14 photography students from photojournalism, photo illustration, fashion and arts and sciences, the universal language of the face has been a simple joy to comprehend.