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Art exhibit celebrates Gallaudet's diversity

Image: The campus community got its first look at the “We Are Gallaudet” art exhibit at an April 12 debut in the JSAC. The work of art is a composite image of the faces in the Gallaudet community, using more than 230 portraits and personal notes about the ways people identify themselves. It also serves as vivid, colorful expression of Kendall Green’s diversity. (Photo by Matthew Vita)

The campus community got its first look at the “We Are Gallaudet” art exhibit at an April 12 debut in the JSAC. The work of art is a composite image of the faces in the Gallaudet community, using more than 230 portraits and personal notes about the ways people identify themselves. It also serves as vivid, colorful expression of Kendall Green’s diversity. (Photo by Matthew Vita)

We Are Gallaudet, an exhibit of more than 260 portraits that celebrate the diversity of the Gallaudet community, is on display at the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center between the Bison bookstore and the Harkin Digital Learning Center. The faces, both young and old, reflect a variety of races and ethnicities. Some of the expressions are joyous, others are serious. Collectively, the photographs remind the viewer of the rich tapestry that makes up the Gallaudet community.

After viewing the photos, exhibit goers are invited to share personal reflections on how they identify themselves. "We as a campus are remarkably diverse," said Provost Stephen Weiner. "The photographs demonstrate this, as do the posted comments. We Are Gallaudet has become a place where people stop and read and talk to each other. If you are studying human expression and interpersonal dynamics, you will find this exhibit a resource for learning."

The notes that people have written on brightly colored paper show a wide range of identities: Bisexual. Gay. Woman. Jewish. Sorority member. ASL user. Basketball player. Human.

The exhibit is a project of photojournalism students in a class led by Johnston Grindstaff, a professor in the Department of Art, Communication, and Theatre, and sponsored by the Office of the Provost.
Exhibit coordinator Noel King, '12, developed the idea for the project and shared it with Grindstaff in January. He agreed that an exhibit of this nature would be an excellent way to depict the wide range of diversity that Gallaudet enjoys, and instructed his students to take photos of staff, faculty, students, and alumni.

Diversity is the theme of We Are Gallaudet because everyone plays a role in its evolution by expressing their personal insights. Whatever people write, however they identify themselves-through race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, communication, religion, or political affiliation-they add to the heart and soul of Gallaudet University.

The goal of this exhibit is to give viewers an overview of the campus community and to analyze themselves through their identities, said King. "We want to show people that ‘we are Gallaudet' but we are also individuals. This exhibit empowers you to show who you are. We unite and respect diversity."

We Are Gallaudet provides a venue for people to express their ideas on identity in a safe, nonjudgmental way, and at the same time see the remarkable composite picture of the many faces of Kendall Green that is revealed. "Learning about diversity of identity, opinion, and ideas helps us understand who we are as a campus and community," said Dr. Weiner. "The We Are Gallaudet exhibit prompts conversation. Make sure you take a look, add your comments, and share your thoughts."

We Are Gallaudet will be on exhibit through Commencement Day, Friday, May 17.

--By Megan Clancy

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