Exhibit Fails to Capture Diversity of LGBT Youth Print
Art - Reviews
Tuesday, 09 December 2003 18:00
The Quad City Arts Gallery last week opened a traveling exhibition called Exuberance! Faces of LGBT Youth, featuring 300 photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people. The gallery statement says that “we must begin to see them as they truly are: heroes, potential leaders, loving family members, gifted role models, regular kids. ”

Yet the exhibition, sponsored locally by Quad Citians Affirming Diversity and organized by the group Young Gay America, is anything but diverse. The photos are identically mounted and framed and arranged in a perfect grid upon the gallery walls. The photos seem to be marching across the walls like the Nazi troop reviews from the old World War II newsreels.

Can there be a message about diversity when the exhibit screams conformity? The photos are uninspired, as if someone walked up to a person or group of people, introduced him- or herself, and took a snapshot.

It would say a lot more about this group truly valuing diversity if at least one of the photos was in a triangular frame, or a round frame, or even a differently colored frame. As it is, all the frames are equally sized and the same color, with identical matting, hung equal distances from each other. The regimental sameness of the exhibit makes one think this group tolerates no deviation from its politically correct line.

The goal of Quad Citians Affirming Diversity is a good one: “We seek to create a community in which all people are included in the shared values of justice and compassion.” But this exhibit doesn’t advance the stated purpose.

Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos showed how a sensitive portrait can illuminate and express a subject’s inner self through the photographic media. But in the same-looking photographs of this exhibit, diversity is hidden.
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