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Picture Perfect

April 20, 2021

OJ Slaughter, former Lasell University student (Photo by Geoffrey Baptiste)OJ Slaughter, a former Lasell student (pictured left), is an avid protest photographer whose work has been recognized by Time Magazine, Vogue Italia, WBUR, Boston Magazine, and the Boston Globe. Slaughter’s portfolio includes portraits of Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, scenic shots of concerts and music videos, and most notably, peaceful protests for racial justice and social change. Slaughter is a fearless historian who marches shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow activists, advocating for change in marginalized communities while simultaneously capturing the spirit and gravitas of the crowd and its mission. 

For Slaughter, the camera is a way to document what is happening in the world as both an artist and a participant in the movement. 

Slaughter discovered photography as an art form in 2011, and reflects on their Lasell photography class with Professor William Downey as “the first time in my entire educational experience where I felt seen and valued.” 

“He really changed my life,” adds Slaughter. “I don’t think that I would have explored photography if I had not attended Lasell.” 

Slaughter studied art management with a minor in fine arts at Lasell, and gained experience through internships at local institutions, including the Museum of Science. Those early introductions “formed my career in ways that I did not immediately understand,” says Slaughter, adding that their internships, campus activities, and proximity to Boston “allowed me to create a life that I can thrive in.” 

At Lasell, Slaughter joined the Student Government Association (SGA) and became a campus organizer for social justice. Following the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, they coordinated trips into Boston for protests and organized educational campus events about cultural appropriation. In those challenging times, Slaughter turned to art as an outlet. 

Photo by OJ Slaughter
Photo by OJ Slaughter

“My work as an activist, particularly in the modern civil rights movement, is directly tied to some of the challenges I experienced at Lasell,” they said. At the same time, Slaughter is grateful for the many people who guided them through those moments. 

“Lasell taught me that compassion exists in spaces where it feels like you might not find any at all. There are many people there who were pivotal to my career, including Dr. Jesse Tauriac, Ken Calhoun M.F.A, and Dr. Sarahbeth Golden … though I could go on and on about others, too.” 

Their advice to current Lasell students is to get involved by starting small, and by being a better version of themselves. “See where it takes you,” they said. “Challenge yourself to say hello to the person that looks different than you.” 

Slaughter’s stunning, thought-provoking photography earned them an honorarium from the Harvard University Committee on the Arts Lab. They have continued their focus on racial justice and social change and continue to actively seek out subjects and artists of color, while also collaborating with people of all gender identities. Some of their current work is currently exhibited at Windy Films in East Boston as part of a gallery event, “The History of Right Now.” They are also working with the ICA & Virgil Abloh on a new gallery that launches in July. Slaughter also works as the Creative Director for WBUR’s Sound on Series.