carlton mackey

press, Typical American Families, community dialogue

Mackey, Knight, MailChimp: A Beautiful Band of 'Misfits'

Friday, September 18th, 2015 

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Directors Carlton Mackey, Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program at the Emory University Center for Ethics, and Ross Oscar Knight, international photographer and photo-culturalist, presented to the employees of MailChimp at their Ponce City Market headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. While MailChimp is a corporate company, focused on email marketing services, CEO Ben Chestnut takes pride in the fact that his company is made up of “misfits” and has made it his mission to create a culture that celebrates difference and diversity within the workplace.

Chestnut met Mackey at Chestnut’s first meeting as a new member of the Emory Center for Ethics Advisory Board. At this meeting, Mackey presented his work on Typical American Families—a project that explores the beautiful spectrum of family and ways it crosses barriers of race, religion, ability, class, sexuality, and age. Chestnut invited Mackey to present to his company as part of the company’s “Coffee Hour” series, which invites “creative, interesting, thought-provoking, and downright weird people” to come to challenge the view’s of the employees and teach them something new. 

Just as several guest speakers before them, including Big Boi from Outkast and Ann Friedman, journalist and professional .GIF-master, Mackey and Knight challenged normative thinking through their presentation. Mackey and Knight brought the Typical American Families photo exhibit, shared stories from families that were part of the project, expressed their understanding of art and its role in social change, and communicated their overall philosophical approach to their work.

In my interview with Mackey, he linked the mission of the company with his work with Beautiful in Every Shade and Typical American Families, which, as he said, “celebrates the misfit and gives them an opportunity to affirm that identity.”

The presentation was widely received. People stressed the importance of Mackey and Knight’s work and the need to broaden the image pool of people seen and how they are seen. One person talked about how, even though evidence would show that diversity is all around him, when he stopped and thought about a ‘typical’ American family, the image that pops into his head is always a very normative one. He felt challenged by this realization.

Sure enough, Mackey and Knight achieved the mission of the Typical American Families project and pushed MailChimp employees to think about “What is typical? What is American? What is family?...and who gets to decide?” 

-Ashwini Krishnamurthy
Emory University Freshman and Ethics & the Art Program Intern

community dialogue

AIGA ATL Diversity Roundtable: Getting A Seat at the Table

How can people of color and members of the LGBT community be better represented in their creative careers? Getting a seat at the table to offer your knowledge, gifts, and unique perspective is pivotal and open dialogue with other creative professionals who are facing the same challenges is a great way to learn. Join us for a roundtable discussion to share your personal experiences and resources. Diversifying our community matters!

Our special guests will be Carlton Mackey, Director of Emory’s Ethics and Arts program and Creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ and Carmen Garcia, Creative Director at Realm Advertising.



AIGA Atlanta & Denise Brown

AIGA Atlanta Diversity is a chapter committee dedicated to supporting diversity issues facing the careers of student, emerging, and professional designers through discussion, community engagement, and exposure.

Typical American Families, press, news


Dear Supporters of Typical American Families,

We are thrilled to announce the reception and unveiling of our exhibit, Typical American Families –Atlanta,

winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta IDEAS Challenge.

Please join Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight, as we celebrate you! 

Meet the families that participated in our photoshoots who represent the diversity of the American family.

You will hear stories and view how these Atlanta residents bridge faith and culture in our city. 

At this event, you'll gain insight into Mackey and Knight's inspiration for the project and get a behind the scenes glimpse of the making of this exhibit.  You’ll also be able to hear from the families themselves as they offer commentary on the experience of being part of this project and what they celebrate about their own families.

Typical American Families is one of four signature projects of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

The reception will begin at 6:30 pm on May 7th

at Emory University’s Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive

Atlanta GA 30322

 Light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.


Please register to attend:


Contact Mika Pettigrew with questions.