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Recent Grad Saadiq Coakley Uses Photography to Shine Light on Baltimore Poverty


Before spring break, the Julio Fine Arts Gallery displayed senior Saadiq Coakley’s attempts to capture the faces of homelessness that reside within minutes of Loyola’s campus. Last semester, Coakley was enrolled in a Photography class called “Image and Text,” and was instructed to create a photography folder that included something within the Baltimore community.

“I had no idea what I was going to do; I knew I wanted to do something meaningful, but I wasn’t sure where to start,” Coakley said.

Coakley took a ride down to the Inner Harbor early one morning to see if something would inspire him. Soon enough, he was overwhelmed with the amount of homelessness he encountered. He spent almost six hours talking with the homeless people he intended to photograph.

“There was one guy that I talked to, his name was Lamount, and I spent a good amount of time talking with him,” Coakley said. “He told me something I will never forget, and it ended up inspiring the whole collection: ‘you can either drown or keep swimming.’”

Courtesy of Saadiq Coakley.

When Coakley’s work was presented to his class, the Loyola University Art Gallery was immediately interested.

“His work was just such a show,” said Megan Rook-Koepsel, Gallery Director. “As soon as his professor brought it to me, I was sure that it would be a perfect fit for the gallery.”

Coakley emphasized how he hopes that his work will show students how prevalent poverty is in the surrounding areas of Loyola.

Kara Hart ‘21 saw Coakley’s work in the Julio Fine Arts Gallery. “I think this collection is powerful especially because some students don’t realize what goes on outside of Loyola,” she said.

Coakley graduated from Loyola in December 2018 and is now working in the surrounding Baltimore area.

“I hope to get a job doing photography or graphics in a few years. I fell in love with photography in high school and I’m really glad to still be doing it today to help inspire people.”

Feature Image: Courtesy of Saadiq Coakley.

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Recent Grad Saadiq Coakley Uses Photography to Shine Light on Baltimore Poverty