Saturday, July 4, 2020

It’s about Light: The Art of Life
New York & Diversity

When I moved to New York, I was blessed to have a family of friends who came from all corners of the world and as I worked at the United Nations, my world was as diverse as can be. Hence I felt truly at home in such a diverse and international environment.

Women & Men of New York (2019)
In fact, this was the inspiration of my two exhibitions about New York’s diversity for which the main subjects, women, and men were from diverse countries.  Women of New York featured portraits of 15 women from all walks of life who, just like me, came to New York to make a new life while celebrating diversity and humanity.  I wanted to show that diversity among people is enriching and the importance of friendship which carried me along at difficult times, especially when my mother passed away. Through one-on-one interviews, they shared memories, their challenges of being a woman in a competitive world.  

The inspiration for this project came from my mother whose strength to overcome the many challenges she faced, not only as a mother but also as a woman whose heart was so big that it could contain the whole of humanity.  My mother was the pillar of the family.

New York Skyline - Vintage 
Since my family of friends was comprised of men who also came from diverse countries, I decided to pay tribute to them as well before my departure from New York as I had to retire at the age of 62 in 2017.  The format of the exhibition was the same as that of the Woman of New York, with one-on-one interviews and I did their portraits to not only show diversity but also to show their character strength.

In both instances, the experience proved to be an incredible journey into the lives of people who became friends as a result of our gatherings, eating dinner together at my apartment and although they all came from diverse countries, we shared that common thread, that of our common humanity. 

Peace Bell at the United Nations
These two exhibitions, as well as others of cultural exchange initiatives, demonstrate that art has no frontiers, it’s a universal language that speaks to us all in time and space, beyond the many barriers of different civilizations.

The aim of these two exhibitions was to demonstrate that what makes New York a vibrant city is not about the rich and famous but about people whose cultural diversity enrich New York’s society.  My young journalist friend, Vincenza di Maggio, who wrote about both exhibitions in La Voce di New York made reference to the invaluable contribution of these women and men of New York: “They are rich, not in money, but in their desire to experience life to the fullest, explore new horizons, meet and form relationships with people of all cultural backgrounds. They have achieved a level of success in a city known to easily break down its inhabitants, but more importantly, they are passionate about the work they do. Whether it’s through art, architecture, journalism, real estate, setting up missions in countries around the world through the United Nations, or through their involvement in activist organizations, they use their interests and talents to give something of value to society and promote social change.”

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