‘They are more than tackles.’ Artist focuses on mental state of student-athletes

By Gary Curreri

Sun Sentinel Correspondent

Dec 22, 2021 11:28 AM

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Lauren Sopourn holds one of her images of Ryan Cameron that was a part of a photography exhibit at Florida Atlantic University. The series, 'Grayscale Grind,' consists of images of student-athletes who play football on the college level. The concept behind it is the mental state of student-athletes in general.

Lauren Sopourn holds one of her images of Ryan Cameron that was a part of a photography exhibit at Florida Atlantic University. The series, ‘Grayscale Grind,’ consists of images of student-athletes who play football on the college level. The concept behind it is the mental state of student-athletes in general. (Lauren Sopourn/Courtesy)

Lauren Sopourn recently had her work on display this fall at the Ritter Art Gallery at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Her project, “Grayscale Grind,” focuses on the mental and physical health of student-athletes. Sopourn said the series encompasses the themes and emotions of dedication, perseverance, fear, anticipation, resilience, and the fragile state of an athlete’s hope to remain in peak physical and mental health.

“‘Grayscale Grind’ as a series is more attentive to portraying the deeper, less-known truths regarding the emotions of student-athletes,” she said, “to show that they are more than tackles, catches, fumbles, interceptions touchdowns and sacks — to show that they are human.

“In essence, the ‘Grayscale Grind’ seeks to bring light to the health of these men that is often overlooked or, more commonly, ignored,” Sopourn said. “There was no motive behind photographing specific athletes. It was more so whatever images I captured of the athletes that were congruent with the project narrative.”

Sopourn, 22, said the body of work is going to be displayed again in February at the North Regional/Broward College Library, Building 62, 1100 Coconut Creek Blvd., in Coconut Creek.

“I was very excited to see my works displayed,” said Sopourn, a Coral Springs native who is currently a senior at FAU getting a bachelor’s degree with a focus in photography. “The project has been a long time coming and I’m grateful I had and continue to have opportunities to share my work.”

An image of Jaylen Joyner was a part of a photography exhibit at Florida Atlantic University by Lauren Sopourn.

An image of Jaylen Joyner was a part of a photography exhibit at Florida Atlantic University by Lauren Sopourn. (Lauren Sopourn/Courtesy)

The images feature student-athletes and her peers from FAU, although she never took any classes with them.

“The project is less about the student-athletes being student-athletes more so than it is about the concept of the mental state of student-athletes in general,” she said. “All of the images are monochrome and the body of work expresses the grind of the life of the student-athlete — hence ‘Grayscale Grind.’”

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