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Photo by: Loyall Hart for Ross Oscar Knight Photography

A crowd of nearly 100 gathered at the Emory University Center for Ethics to view the unveiling of the photo exhibit, TYPICAL AMERICAN FAMILIES–ATLANTA.  As winner of the 2014 IDEAS Challenge grant from One Region Atlanta, Carlton Mackey utilized the funds to partner with long time collaborator and BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Co-Director, Ross Oscar Knight.   Their idea was to build upon the mission of their existing platform at which celebrates the diversity of family and challenges the limited, normative understandings about what “family” can be.

In December 2014, the AJC featured a story by Shelia Poole about the duo’s winning idea which also included a call for submissions.  The community response was overwhelming.  Over 200 Atlanta-area families submitted personal stories and photos in support of the mission of the project and for consideration to be chosen for a photo shoot with Ross Oscar Knight.

Knight captures the beauty of the Allen Family along the Atlanta Beltline. Photo by Carlton Mackey.

Ultimately, twelve families were chosen and, over the course of several months, were photographed by Knight in areas reflective of the family’s personality and personal narrative.   These environments included public settings such as restaurants and parks, while others were photographed in various parts of their home. 

Mackey also documented the journey and produced a video documentary chronicling the families as they engaged at each of the photo shoots with each other and Knight.  “I had never met Ross before the shoot,” explained Antoinette Ellison in the documentary “but the photo shoot seemed so natural.  Before [Ross] left it was as if he were part of the family.” 

Prior to the May 7th unveiling event, none of the families saw their photos nor the video documentary.  Even upon entering the photo exhibit space, each image was covered.  The families were invited to come up one by one to uncover their photo.

Unveiling photos proved to reveal more than meets the eye.

The Ellison family, photographed in their home, prepared Sunday breakfast as part of their photo shoot.  In an emotional moment during the community conversation facilitated by Center for Ethics Director Paul Root Wolpe, Gregory C. Ellison III, who just a week prior to the photo shoot mourned the loss of his grandmother, stated that the angle Knight captured their family portrait made him feel as if his “grandmother was looking down on his family [from heaven].”

The exhibit will be on display at the Emory University Center for Ethics until June 30.  Mackey and Knight are also seeking support to aid with traveling the exhibit throughout the city and ultimately hosting Typical American Family photo shoots and community dialogues across the country. 

Photos by Loyall Hart for Ross Oscar Knight Photography

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EMORY News Center Feature: Typical American Families photo exhibit to be unveiled at Emory

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | May 4, 2015

Conceived by Carlton Mackey, director of Emory's Ethics and the Arts Program, the exhibit offers a photographic glimpse into the lives of 15 Atlanta-area families, celebrating "the vast landscape of manifestations of family" across spectrums of culture, faith and ability, Mackey says.

The event includes a public reception and formal unveiling of the exhibit. Guests will also have a chance to meet families that participated in the community project, which showcases the diversity of the American family through the lens of international photographer/photoculturalist Ross Oscar Knight, Mackey's creative partner.

Read Complete Story



The Unveiling of TYPICAL AMERICAN FAMILIES -ATLANTA Exhibit at Emory University

Dear Supporters of Typical American Families,

We are thrilled to announce the reception and unveiling of our exhibit, Typical American Families –Atlanta,

winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta IDEAS Challenge.

Please join Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight, as we celebrate you! 

Meet the families that participated in our photoshoots who represent the diversity of the American family.

You will hear stories and view how these Atlanta residents bridge faith and culture in our city. 

At this event, you'll gain insight into Mackey and Knight's inspiration for the project and get a behind the scenes glimpse of the making of this exhibit.  You’ll also be able to hear from the families themselves as they offer commentary on the experience of being part of this project and what they celebrate about their own families.


The reception will begin at 6:30 pm on May 7th

at Emory University’s Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive

Atlanta GA 30322

 Light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.


Please register to attend:


Contact Mika Pettigrew with questions.



EMORY Report: Photo Project Seeks 'Typical American Families'


EMORY Report: Photo Project Seeks 'Typical American Families'

A community photography project created by Carlton Mackey, director of Emory's Ethics and the Arts Program, to celebrate the spectrum of differences within modern American families has been awarded a 2014-2015 "Ideas Challenge Grant" by One Region Atlanta.

"Typical American Families" is an online platform exploring a wider view of American families through photographic images.

This month, Mackey's project was among four applicants selected to receive an Ideas Challenge grant award from One Region Atlanta, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

In their application, Mackey and his creative partner, international photographer/photoculturalist Ross Oscar Knight, proposed utilizing their "Typical American Family" platform to help bridge faith and culture in Atlanta by creating a traveling photo exhibit.

The $2,500 grant will be used to offer free family portrait sessions with Knight to about 15 Atlanta families. Copies of those photographs will be given to each family and will also be displayed through a traveling exhibit, which will be unveiled in spring 2015 in a ceremony and public gathering at Emory's Center for Ethics.

READ COMPLETE Emory Report Story Here



The Center for Ethics is Looking for Typical Atlanta Families

December 1, 2014

Emory University Center for Ethics

For Immediate Release
Co-Directors of Beautiful in Every Shade, Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight, are the winners of One Region Atlanta’s Ideas Challenge grant for 2014-2015.

Out of nearly 200 Ideas Challenge submissions, the two were awarded for their idea to utilize the platform to bridge faith and culture in the city of Atlanta.

This created a joint partnership between Beautiful in Every Shade, the campaign under which Typical American Families is housed and Emory University’s Ethics & the Arts program.

Up to 15 Atlanta families will be chosen for a free family portrait session with celebrated photographer Ross Oscar Knight.  Families will receive a free copy of their photo and images will be displayed in a Traveling Photo Exhibit.  Participating families will be brought together at an unveiling ceremony and exhibit at the Center for Ethics where they will share a multi-cultural meal and engage in community dialogue.

If you would like the opportunity to have your “typical” American family photographed and your story featured, please share your story and apply at . Deadline for submissions is December 12, 2014.

To view Ethics and the Arts current programming, please visit

For more information about One Region Atlanta, please visit:

To learn more about Beautiful in Every Shade, please visit:

1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta Georgia 30322    |     404.712.8307     |

Tanya Anderson Woodward

Marketing and Communications Manager

Emory University Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, Georgia 30322



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