Visibility Exhibit Returns to Grace

To address the ongoing struggles with affirming visibility and representation of the LGBTQ+ community, Grace launched the biennial Visibility Photography Exhibit in 2014.
The exhibit spotlights LGBTQ+ people in the lives of Grace community members, from family and friends to colleagues and personal trainers. The first exhibit featured over 80 photographs displayed in the lobbies of both campuses. The exhibit has grown into an important touchpoint event at Grace, grappling with a variety of themes and featuring keynote speakers at each opening night.  

After moving online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s exhibit, which opened on November 10, marked the return to an in-person exhibit. Shown in the South Hall at 86 4th Avenue and outside the auditorium at 46 Cooper Square, this year’s exhibit boasted over 70 photographs and captions explaining the significance of each picture submitted by staff, students, parents, administrators, and alumni. This year’s theme prompted parents, faculty, and student Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) the question: Why does visibility matter? Interspersed with the photos were quotes from community members across campuses, and, for the first time, a black empty square was included in the exhibit to represent the LGBTQ+ folks who didn’t feel comfortable or safe to submit, a reminder that the work of inclusion is far from over.  

This year’s opening ceremony showcased speeches from the founders of the newly-established Parent Gender/Sexuality Alliance (PGSA), Sarah Fitzharding, Susan Sterman-Jones, and Jean-Robert Andre. Poet, author, and Director of the Progressive Teaching Institute and Associate Director of DEI at Fieldston Ethical Culture, Noah Arhm Choi, performed as keynote, reciting three brilliant poems on their Korean identity, queer love, and acceptance from their family. Lastly, Grace Theater Director Andrew Leonard sang his original song, Love Somebody, that got the whole audience dancing. 

The significance of the Visibility Exhibit cannot be overstated as members of marginalized communities inside and out of Grace Church School can still face discrimination and harassment. Simply displaying photographs – being visible – helps to normalize marginalized identities as well as start conversations about queer visibility and representation. The Office of Community Engagement would like to sincerely thank all the Grace community members who submitted photos celebrating the special people in their lives as well as the speakers and performers, Andrew Leonard and Noah Arhm Choi. The OCE looks forward to organizing the next Visibility Photography Exhibit in 2024. 
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Grace Church School is a co-educational independent school in downtown Manhattan, New York City providing instruction for nearly 800 students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12.