Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Visioneer’s Gallery: The Heart Gallery
The traveling “Faces of Foster Care” exhibition makes a stop in Penn Station
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but for foster children in New York City and across the country, a picture is worth improved self-esteem, and potentially, a new home and family." These moving words from CNN refer to photographic portraits of foster children in the "Heart Gallery," a traveling photo and audio exhibit that aims to find adoptive families for children in need of a home. Founded in 2001 by a professional photographer in New Mexico, the first "Heart Gallery" exhibition was so successful that Heart Gallery groups formed almost overnight across the U.S. to organize photography exhibits that have resulted in more than 5,000 children around the country finding their adoptive families.
This month, Duggal proudly lent our support to the Heart Gallery NYC and worked with Executive Director Laurie Sherman Graff to exhibit 100 oversized digitally printed portraits for their new show "Faces of Foster Care." The show opened in November at the Amtrak Rotunda in Penn Station, with 4x5-foot enlarged portraits gently inviting viewers into their world while drawing attention to the mission of the organization: to help children living in foster care realize their dream of finding permanent, loving adoptive families to call their own.
The last 10 years of the Heart Gallery's work has built a network of volunteer photographers who are notable in their talent for capturing poignant portraits. Celebrity photographers who actively support the Heart Gallery cause include Robert Ascroft, who has photographed Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz and Mariah Carey, and Howard Schatz, whose subjects have included Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg and Brooke Shields. By inviting masters of portraiture who can sum up the essence of a child into a single portrait, the Heart Gallery enables each child the best shot at connecting with a potential family. Taking a good portrait is challenging even for the most experienced photographer, and when the responsibility of creating a portrait upon which the entire future of a child rests, it becomes a tall order. As photographer Barbara Bordnick states, "I was hoping I could make them feel comfortable and make them feel special—I wondered if I'd be able to do that," adding that she "...wanted to get 'them' on film, not make them into anything."
The exhibition on display at Penn Station includes works by photographers Martin Schoeller, James Salzano, Fiona Aboud, Michael Weschler, Bud Glick and Belenna Lauto. James Salzano, who photographs regularly for the Heart Gallery exhibits, comments on his experiences: "Getting photographers together with these children in a setting that they're so unfamiliar with, but makes them feel so special is such a brilliant concept. This program gives a face to the issue in such a wonderful way; it really celebrates all of the children and young adults as celebrities. Displaying their portraits in the public venues further validates these subjects as more than kids needing families; it gives them a sense of dignity and I feel helps their self-esteem, as well. It makes art out of 'call to action' and that's a real win-win for this program. I think the value to our society is far-reaching, as well. Whenever we can make someone aware of an issue, it goes beyond just helping those in need; it helps us all."
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