First Look

Photographs by Dear World

Powerful Words

The UB community wears its hearts and minds on its sleeves. And hands and chests and…

By Lauren Newkirk Maynard


Last semester, a nonprofit called Dear World took its unique portrait project to North Campus, where it spent several days photographing strong, personal messages that UB students, faculty and staff had written on themselves (mostly on their arms) in black ink. What began in 2009 as a “photographic love note” to New Orleans has grown into 50,000 portraits taken worldwide, including those collected during the annual Dear World Live college tours. Photos are uploaded online and via social media, capturing the heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking stories of human experience, one phrase at a time.

Struck by the humanity, intelligence and diversity of the hundreds of UB voices included in the project, we had the difficult task of choosing just a few.