March 22, 2010

Portraits show resiliency of human spirit

Photos by Billy Howard

“Portrait of Sprit: One Story at a Time” highlights the individuality of people with disabilities, and banishes common perceptions about those who live with a disability. The Office of Disability Services, Community and Diversity and the President’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity are sponsoring the photo exhibit on view in the Dobbs University Art Gallery until April 7.

Black-and-white photographs and interviews in the exhibit tell the story of 25 individuals who fight the perceptions that their identity is not limited to their disability. Atlanta photographer and former Emory staff member Billy Howard created the exhibit, based on his book of the same name.

“While many stories reflect grace and courage, bitterness and anger are represented as well. There is wonderful humor, pathos, and a very clear look at the society in which we all live, but in which disabled persons are often unseen,” actor Christopher Reeve wrote in the foreword to “Portrait of Spirit: One Story At A Time.”

At an opening reception March 15, guests commented on the small but powerful exhibit of extraordinary people. Most of the people pictured are from Atlanta, and some have an Emory connection.

Professor of Women’s Studies Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, author of “Staring: How We Look,” described Howard’s work, and Senior Vice Provost for Community & Diversity Ozzie Harris talked about the intersections of diversity at Emory.

On loan from the Southern Arts Federation in Atlanta, the exhibit was originally created for Atlanta’s 1996 Paralympics.

For more information, contact the Office of Disability Services at 404.727.9877.

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