1005 Faces,” a photo project by Sarah Brooke Lyons, made its book debut this Sunday at Pearl Studio.

Lyons’ main purpose behind the project was to explore San Antonio’s cultural diversity and recognize how our individual identities create a collective consciousness. In doing so, Lyons took portraits of 1005 San Antonio people, each holding a whiteboard sign with a phrase or slogan meaningful to them.

The project started in 2013 and premiered in March 2014 at the Southwest School of Art.

“It took me two years to put the book together,” Lyons said. “It’s a culmination of the work of the heart. I’m excited to share these moments of the history of San Antonio.”

sarah brooke lyons book signing_credit Don mathis
Sarah Brooke Lyons signs a copy of her book. Photo by Don Mathis.

Lyons captured many movers and shakers in the San Antonio community including solar power pioneer Bill Sinkin, poet laureate Carmen Tafolla, and Cordero Maldonado, better known as Spurs Jesus. However, the majority of the faces are unsung people doing their day-to-day jobs; people that make San Antonio unique.

At the book release, many of the 1005 faces were eager to share the meaning of their messages on their signs.

Lydia Panvini, #4, is a college buddy of Lyons and a teacher in the Judson Independent School District. Her sign, “Happy, Joyous, and Free,” matches her personality. “I live a life today that God has blessed,” she said, “so I get to wake up every day happy, joyous, and free.”

B. Kay Richter, #265, is a local freelance journalist. “Look for a window,” was her message. “In 2010, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and I was confined to a small room during my treatment,” she said. “I was forbidden to have visitors during my cancer treatment, so the window became my lifeline to the outside world.”

Lori Hall, #1000, a San Antonio Housing Authority employee, was photographed near the end of the project. “I wrote ‘On the fringe’ because that’s how I always felt about living in San Antonio,” she said.

In 2014, Milton Fagin, #993, a candidate for the 45th District Court, wrote “Equality for All” on his placard. He’s running for the 408th District Court this year. “Equality goes along with the goals of Martin Luther King,” Fagin said. “As a lawyer, equality is what we strive for in the courts.”

Robinbird Lyons, #777, is the mother of Sarah Brooke Lyons and co-owner with her husband of a fire equipment business. “I wrote, ‘God is living on the inside, roaring like a lion,’ because God is everything to me,” she said.

Three of 525 faces so far in the 1005 Faces project. Photos by Sarah Brooke Lyons.
Three of the 1,005 faces featured in the project. Photos by Sarah Brooke Lyons.

The message of Joseph Schuetze, #517, says ‘I love her’ with an arrow pointing towards his wife, Stacey Schuetze, #518. Her sign reads, “Once a mermaid, always a mermaid.” “I was a mermaid at Aquarena Springs when I was going to college in San Marcos,” she said. “Now I’m a stay-at-home mom and I love it.”

Their kids Caleb, #823, and Sadie, #824, hold signs that read, “Jesus is my soccer coach” and “Jesus is in my heart,” respectively. The kids go to Community Bible Church on Loop 1604. “My favorite Bible story is about Noah,” Caleb said.

The sign held by Jenee Margo Gonzales, #783, contains lyrics of a song by the Five Stairsteps, “Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier, ooh-oo child, things’ll get brighter.” She is a development officer for the local Marianists. “Everyone should have a theme song for their life,” she said. “This one’s mine.”

Melanie Cawthon, #91, almost always wears a scarf and hat in her job as a vice-president at Reaching Maximum Independence, an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities work and live as independently as possible. Her sign is emblazoned, “Philanthropist Advocate – Scarf and Hat a Must!” “I like giving back to the community,” she said. “Advocating for individuals with disabilities has its own rewards.”

Because the book launch was on the DreamWeek calendar of events, Shokare Nikori Nakpodia, #111, DreamVoice LLC San Antonio president was there. “Dream Big!” is written in big letters below his smiling face. “I think we tend to let negative issues affect us,” he said. “Each individual can only impact the world in the manner in which we dream.”

Photo by Don Mathis.
Shokare Nakpodia stands next to DreamWeek San Antonio sign at the book release. Photo by Don Mathis.

And in the case of Sarah Brooke Lyons, her dream of 1005 Faces has a very large impact. The first edition has a very limited run. Contact Lyons on Facebook to reserve a copy.

*Top image: Sarah Brooke Lyons poses with her book, “1005 Faces” at its release celebration. Photo by Don Mathis.

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Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...