Changing How the World Sees

Just a few blocks up from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and across the street from the Africa Center, you will find the headquarters of Positive Exposure, a vibrant organization with international reach, dedicated to promoting a more inclusive world through award-winning photography, films, exhibitions, lectures and educational programs. 

BY Liz Matejka-Grossman / Photographs by Rick Guidotti/Positive Exposure | June 2021 | Category: 50th Anniversary Issue

Changing How the World Sees

For over two decades, Positive Exposure has partnered with diverse communities to create multimedia exhibitions that have facilitated important conversations and needed change, impacting millions of people. 

On any given day, Positive Exposure’s calendar is filled with lectures to first year medical students, grand rounds, family conferences, photo and film shoots, international disability rights activist interviews, and the development of educational curricula for K-12, college, medical school and beyond.

Its FRAME program (Faces Redefining the Art of Medical Education) is an extensive, web-based film library that has been utilized by tens of thousands of health care professionals in training, clinicians, families and communities.

In each FRAME film, individuals and their families demonstrate the hallmark characteristics of the featured condition, placing front row and center – in medical education – humanity, and the philosophy that is never what you are treating, but who you are treating.

The PEARLS Project, featured in a New York Times article entitled Learning Empathy by Looking Beyond Disabilities, is a blog platform created for Positive Exposure ambassadors to share life from their unique perspectives, helping audiences appreciate and experience our shared humanity.

The Positive Exposure Gallery, located just off Central Park North in East Harlem, serves as a central hub for showcasing the work of visual, performing, literary and multisensory artists, as well as providing educational, cultural and artist-in-residency programming.

This first-of-its kind space invites the general public to visit, to be wowed, to learn, to engage in dialogue and experience these ever-evolving collections and important, often overlooked, contributions to the art world.

In March 2020, Positive Exposure installed a juried student exhibition entitled Myself My World, in collaboration with New York City’s Department of Education’s District 75, a citywide program which serves more than 23,000 children with disabilities ages 3 -21 who require more intensive, specialized services. Plans for an opening celebration, school visits and community programming had just been finalized when Positive Exposure was forced to temporarily close its doors due to COVID-19.

Similar to the rest of the world, Positive Exposure transitioned all programming – including the exhibition – to a virtual platform.

Fearful of the isolating effects of the pandemic for communities, already experiencing isolation and exclusion, Positive Exposure Connects was created – a Facebook Live series of energized discussions with activists, advocates, educators, artists, healthcare providers, friends, families and communities.

While most programs continue to be virtual, Positive Exposure has started to open back up safely in accordance with CDC guidelines.

In late January, Positive Exposure called upon its community to come together and create a public art installation for Valentine’s Day, as an extension of Positive Exposure’s East Harlem Wall of Love by Marco Santini. For his mural – which is located in the courtyard Positive Exposure shares with The Church of St. Edward the Martyr and the New York Common Pantry – Santini used an array of geometric shapes and colors with the word “Love” written in over 100 languages to symbolize that “there is more that unites us than divides us.” Building on this concept, Positive Exposure requested that the community submit artwork addressing the theme of Light, Love, Unity and Inclusion. 

The community response and submitted artwork was exquisite, kicking off the first in a series of collaborative public art installations based on the theme, Fill the World with Love. This inaugural installation – entitled Light Up the Night with Love, Unity and Inclusion – showcased and illuminated more than 250 pieces of art from around New York City and the globe!

In April 2021, Cornell University Cameradery Club photography program exhibition in collaboration with interested PEARLS Ambassadors was featured in the Positive Exposure gallery, while additional collaborative public installations will occur around New York City in partnership with muralist Marco Santini and Naomi Lawrence, a NYC Fiber Artist based in East Harlem. Visit: https://naomirag.com 

To learn more about Positive Exposure, please visit www.positiveexposure.org Want to visit? Positive Exposure is now scheduling summer and fall “in-person” appointments. To schedule a visit, please email liz@positiveexposure.org.  

Read the article here.