“The Story of a Face” The Katie Stubblefield Story
“The Story of a Face” The Katie Stubblefield Story, Maggie Steber's first ever exhibition of this powerful, and emotional story.
“They would share their deepest thoughts with me, that’s quite a privileged position. Sometimes photographers need to put down the camera and just listen to their subjects.” –Maggie Steber
© MAGGIE STEBER
“The Story of a Face”,The Katie Stubblefield Story, Maggie Steber
“People look away from everything, don’t they? They look away from pictures of starving children, of war. They have the choice. But then I think of all the people who will be very interested. Maybe there are some children who will become doctors one day because they see this. We have to think of the people who will be inspired and informed and changed by this.” –Maggie Steber
Of all the parts of the human body, our face is our most distinctive attribute. It is the image we see in our mind’s eye when we think about ourselves. It is the physical emblem of our identity and sense of self. It’s our passport photo to the rest of the world. But it is also the way others seek to know us more deeply, to discover who we are inside. Faces helped us evolve as social beings. Aside from language, our faces are our most important vehicles for communicating. Our faces serve us in the basics of staying alive: eating, drinking, breathing. Faces are also the intake valves, so to speak, of four of the five basic senses, helping us to see, smell, taste and hear. It’s nothing to take for granted.
Katie Stubblefield, a beautiful smart 18 year old high school student lost her face in a suicide attempt. She survived against all odds, which pretty much describes this woman, a survivor, who now has the face of someone else.
“May 2016, the first time I met Katie. Since then I have followed her painful and hopeful remarkable story and still continue to do so now. What began as a tragedy ended up being about redemption.”–Maggie Steber
The family, Katie and her parents Alesia and Robb, had undergone therapy to get past the terrible “accident” as they referred to it. Katie’s days were filled with physical therapy, speech therapy, learning braille as she probably won’t see again, and doctors appointments along with multiple small surgeries to prepare her for the possibility of a donated face.
At 7:30am on May 4, 2017, Katie finally received a face donation becoming the youngest full face transplant recipient in history. It was the face of a 31-year-old on life support following a drug overdose. She would not recover. The face was donated by her grandmother who months later got to see her granddaughter’s face when she met Katie in an emotional meeting.
For two and a half years, photographer Maggie Steber followed Katie and her family, commuting from her home in Miami to spend weeklong stints at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where surgeons cared for Katie. Steber did everything the Stubblefields did, leaving them only to sleep, and came to consider herself part of their family.
“The Story of a Face”,The Katie Stubblefield Story - will be on display at MiamiPhotoFest 2019 - Feb 27th - Mar 3rd.
Maggie Steber, a documentary photographer who has worked in 67 countries on stories concerning the human experience. Her honors include a Guggenheim Foundation Grant for 2017-2018 for The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma, World Press Photo First Prize in Spot News, the Overseas Press Club, Pictures of the Year for Best Documentary Photo, the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, the Alicia Patterson Grant, the Ernst Haas Grant, and a Knight Foundation grant for the New American Newspaper project, a visually-driven tabloid researched and conceived by Steber.
In 2014, Steber was named as one of 11 Women of Vision by National Geographic Magazine. She served as Director of Photography at The Miami Herald from 1999 to 2003 where the photo staff won a Pulitzer Prize and were twice finalists. Her photographs are included in the Library of Congress, The Richter Collection, the Guggenheim Foundation Collection and many private collections. Maggie works for various publications including National Geographic Magazine. She teaches workshops around the world and has served as a judge for many grants and organizations including World Press Photo, Pulitzer Prize, the Alexia Grant and the Alicia Patterson Grant. She recently joined VII Photo.