January 21, 2019 – The Voices of Gainesville art exhibit will be featured in Santa Fe College’s Blount Center DC lobby beginning with an opening reception Monday, Jan. 28, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to visit the reception for free food and drinks, and opportunities to interact with this immersive exhibit. The display features photographs by Charlotte Kesl in collaboration with UnseenAmerica, and video links to footage of a storytelling event wherein the individuals in the portraits share their stories.
Racial inequity is a long-standing issue in many communities across the United States, affecting the opportunities of minority individuals and families. In 2018, the Understanding Racial Disparities in Alachua County report was published detailing the disparities in employment, criminal justice, education, housing and poverty in Alachua County. The project, led by the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) in collaboration with the University of Florida Program for Resource Efficient Communities (PREC) aimed to understand and document racial inequity and develop “a baseline report grounded in quantitative findings to document and provide insights about the extent, nature and source of racial inequality in Alachua County.”
In the fall of 2018, Self Narrate, in partnership with the Alachua County NAACP chapter and United Church of Gainesville’s Racial Task Force, hosted a three-part storytelling event at The Hippodrome. Through storytelling, the series aimed to give a face and a voice to the statistics of those most affected by these disparities. Community leaders also spoke of challenges faced in addressing systemic racism related to transportation and housing, criminal justice and education. These portraits are the people who shared their stories.
Charlotte Kesl is an independent photographer based in Gainesville, Florida. She works for national news outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post. She also collaborates with nonprofits and offers photo sessions for families and businesses. Charlotte has a master’s degree in Media, Communication and Development from the London School of Economics (UK) and a bachelor’s from American University (Washington, D.C.).
UnseenAmerica, a national photo project, was originally created to enlighten the general public about the lives of immigrant workers. UnseenAmerica has since grown to include all groups that are misrepresented, stereotyped or ignored by mainstream media and mass culture. UnseenAmerica offers participatory photo workshops to groups over days or weeks. Projects are designed to hone in on the precise personal messages people want to convey to the general public via their images and words. For groups that cannot commit to a participatory workshop, UnseenAmerica also offers portrait sessions taken by professional photographers to pair with the subject’s own words.