Michelle Gabel

Michele Gabel website

Michelle Gabel Blog

LightWork Grant Award announcement

2014 Article about Michelle Fox

Michelle Gabel - Images and Artist Statement from LightWork Grant announcement



Michelle Gabel

Michelle Gabel is an independent photographer and visual storyteller based in Fayetteville, New York. Her work has been published in National Geographic PROOF, New York Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, The Syracuse Newspapers, ONE.org, and Global Post, among other outlets. A former photojournalist with The Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, NY, she has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association, the Associated Press, the New York Publishers Association and the Syracuse Press Club. She has exhibited at Photoville in Brooklyn, NY, and at ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse, NY.

A traumatic event is at the center of these photographs—an accidental shotgun blast that took away Michelle Fox’s eyes, nose and upper palate, leaving her blind and unable to smell. It is a classic case of how one moment, one action, can change not only one life, but several lives forever. For the past four years, I’ve been collaborating with Michelle, who now lives in an addition to her parents’ house with her two young daughters.

This ongoing project delves into issues that are not as apparent as Michelle’s drastically changed appearance. Gun ownership and responsibility; beauty and identity; the impact of trauma on children; family and faith; disability; and the costs, financial and otherwise, of caring for people who become injured by gun blasts.

Since 2014, I’ve worked with Michelle and her family to create documentary photos, collaborative portraits and audio interviews that are at the heart of this project. Home movies, family pictures, and police records also inform the work.

Woven throughout are themes of strength and vulnerability—Michelle’s and her family’s. These images provide clues to how Michelle has survived the nine years since her live-in ex-husband accidentally shot her, and raise questions about what the future holds for her and her two young daughters.

For Michelle and her family, the traumatic effects of the shooting are there, but also the strength, resilience, and love that keep them together. I hope viewers will have a strong empathetic reaction to Michelle’s story and all involved. I also want this work to contribute to the ongoing call for gun safety research and sensible laws.

— Michelle Gabel