All of the presidents in the series were slaveholders; Helfman turned to the Library of Congress for those historical images.
The African-American faces are those of models she’s photographed before. No post-shoot digital manipulation here,
Helfman actually tore the presidential countenances and placed them over the “slave” faces. “I’d lay them out and then just
play with them and see, based on eye contact,” she reveals. “Sometimes the magic is there; for me, magic isn’t this planned
thing afterward—that’s just not magic.”
Maxine Helfman, George Washington, 2014, photography/collage