In partnership with Positive Exposure, a non-profit organization founded by award winning fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, The Resource Exchange (TRE) is presenting an extraordinary photo exhibition at Chapel Hills Mall.
In September, Guidotti conducted a two-day photo shoot in Colorado Springs of over thirty-five local individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which are featured in “Positive Exposure: The Spirit of Difference” exhibit. This unique exhibit, created to increase awareness and acceptance, and to display the talents and abilities of people of all ages and differences is open to the public through December 31.
Positive Exposure’s mission utilizes photography, film and narrative to transform public perceptions of people living with genetic, intellectual, developmental, physical and behavioral differences.
Guidotti worked in NYC, Milan and Paris for a variety of high profile clients including Yves St Laurent, Revlon, L’Oreal, Elle, Harpers Bazaar and GQ. He took photographs of what were considered the world’s most beautiful people. One day, a chance encounter on a Manhattan street changed everything. He saw a stunning girl – a girl with pale skin and white hair, a girl with albinism. Guidotti then began a process of discovery about albinism, people with genetic differences, and about himself. The portrayals that he saw of people with developmental differences were sad and dehumanizing. In medical textbooks children with differences were seen as a disease, a diagnosis first – not as people.
So he turned his world upside down – he stopped working in the fashion industry and created a not-for-profit organization named Positive Exposure.
“In fashion I was always frustrated because I was told who I had to photograph. I was always told who was beautiful.” It became clear to him that it was essential for people to understand and see the beauty in our shared humanity. But how do you lead people down a different path? How do you get people to see those with differences not as victims, but kids and people first and foremost? The pity has to disappear. The fear has to disappear. Behavior has to change. These kids need to be seen as their parents see them, as their friends see them; as valuable and positive parts of society, as beautiful.
The photos give people the permission to see beauty and interpret beauty in their own right. Not to see beauty that is dictated by industry’s ideas of what is acceptable.
Positive Exposure: The Spirit of Difference exhibit is open to the public Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Chapel Hills Mall, 1710 Briargate Blvd, Colorado Springs, through December 31.