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Breaking Barriers logo


Through Our lens


Through Our Lens Home
Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer
Christian Cortes

Beginning (Section A)
Jarrett Gafford - US Air Force
Dawn S. Hargrett - US Navy
Rebekka Huneke - Daughter of US Air Force Veteran Father
Ramonita Rosa - US Army
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
Monika Sutton - Wife of US Army Veteran
Karl Young II - US Army Colonel (US Special Operations Command)

Advanced (Section B)
James Alexander - US Air Force
Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Wildalys Class - US Air Force
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


Selina Román, My Angles, Your Compromise, 2022.

Selina Román, My Angles, Your Compromise, 2022.

Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer

Photography’s potential to be a document, but also be a complete fiction, has fascinated me about the medium for as long as I can remember. In my own artistic practice, I oscillate between working in the studio with staged scenes to exploring the “real world” and documenting what I see. Some of my work even muddles the two. In this year’s iteration of Breaking Barriers I encouraged the participants to keep mining their histories and experiences to create work that was meaningful to them. In each class, participants’ images were considered and spanned the spectrum of approaches — from humorous to serious to heartfelt. No matter the approach, the images always feel personal.

Manfredo Bobadilla’s cat, Mooshu Bear, inspired him to create a series of images of his beloved companion. Amanda Dodd, who spent time on a farm, documented a local horse breeder in a set of beautifully lit photographs. Mikko Maki explores the battles he has waged with his health using projections of brain scans and other medical imagery overlaid in staged self-portraits. RaeAnne Swanson created a touching suite of black and white images documenting the daily activities of a veteran.

A majority of people own smartphones, and in turn, powerful cameras. Everyone can take a picture but not everyone can make a picture. This year’s Breaking Barriers participants used their smartphone cameras to their full potential and then some. As I printed the 47 images for the exhibition this year, I was bowled over, yet again, by the work that these artists created. Of course I saw the images during the summer sessions; however, holding the prints in my hands turned into a sacred experience — an idea materialized. At first these images were bits of data, stored on a small device or in a “cloud”. Now they are tangible artworks occupying space in the world. I am beyond proud of these artists and I am thrilled to share their work with you. I know these images will move you as much as they have moved me.

Artist and Breaking Barriers Instructor



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a project by USFCAM in collaboration with the USF School of Art and Art History, with Support from the USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.