BY WILLIAM J. DAGENDESH
The partnering of a local assistance service for disabled people and award-winning photographer has resulted in a photo exhibit designed to capture the beauty of persons living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
By partnering with The Resource Exchange, fashion photographer Rick Guidotti presented Positive Exposure: The Spirit of Difference, a photo exhibit featuring a collection of Guidotti’s portraits of the Intellectual and Developmental Disability — or IDD — community.
Held last month at Chapel Hills Mall and hosted by the nonprofit TRE, the exhibit exposed the community to the beauty of all people through a different lens, and increased awareness of people from the Pikes Peak region who live with IDD. Or, as Guidotti explained, the images provide the opportunity for people to see beyond labels or disabilities.
Positive Exposure is an innovative nonprofit arts, education and advocacy organization that explores social and psychological experiences of people living with genetic, physical, intellectual and behavioral differences. Guidotti, who founded the organization, has spent years working to affect a sea of change in societal attitudes toward individuals living with genetic differences.
Guidotti described the exhibit as a powerful collection of community strengths, and love of family and friends. The exhibit steadies the viewers’ eyes long enough to see the beauty emanating from the images, he said.
“Each image is printed on a highly reflective surface that allows the viewer to see their own image, the best parts of them reflected through the eyes of our gorgeous, stunning models,” Guidotti said.
TRE Marketing Specialist Garry Butcher said, “We share the belief that each of us seeks the fullest expression of our independence, pursuing our unique quality of and purpose in life.”
The partnership between TRE, Guidotti and Positive Exposure began last year when TRE asked Guidotti to visit Colorado Springs to conduct a “community photo shoot” of individuals receiving services from TRE. Guidotti agreed, and the two-day photo shoot took place in September with 32 TRE clients attending. “I had a trip scheduled in Denver for another conference and we started planning,” Guidotti said of the partnership. “TRE and Positive Exposure have such synergy and we share so much of the same vision.”
Butcher added, “Due to the overwhelming response throughout the community of people wanting to participate, we worked with a local photographer who conducted multiple day-long photo sessions of over 95 additional individuals.”
Guidotti, who attended New York City’s School of Visual Arts and has been a fashion photographer for decades, works to capture the beauty, energy, heart, passion and vibrance of his subjects. Or, as Guidotti explained, he strives to “make sure that the world gets to meet these gorgeous individuals and see beyond any difference to the humanity we share.” The TRE/Positive Exposure photo gallery is unique in that it is the first time such an exhibition has been created in a shopping center, Butcher said. “Rick works with organizations around the world spreading his message of inclusion and understanding of individuals who are living with differences,” Butcher said.
Guidotti’s work keeps him on a the road constantly, he said, and that he will be attending exhibits in Ecuador, Orlando, Los Angeles, Louisiana, San Francisco, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. during the next two weeks. Presently, an exhibition is on display at the University of Tel Aviv, a public research university in Israel.
“Through the exhibit, we join Rick in the hope that our community will join with other communities to see beauty in everyone and instill a profound respect for diversity and understanding of people of all differences,” Butcher said.
Of his photo subjects, Guidotti said, “(I) don’t have a favorite, (I) love them all.”
Serving more than 4,400 people in the Pikes Peak region, TRE exists to build independence for individuals with IDD. TRE partners with hundreds of human service provider agencies, school districts, and corporate, academic, research and healthcare partners to offer customized and innovative services that focus on exceptional health and welfare in order to grow quality of life.
To learn more visit http://www.tre.org/ change-how-you-see-see-how-you-change.