The Auburn Public Library was filled with smiles and expressions of appreciation as Bravehearts kicked off the tour of their annual photography exhibit. Members spent the past months taking photos to display at the traveling exhibit.
Expressions of a Braveheart, or Bravehearts, is a fine arts program for young adults with disabilities. Auburn University students and faculty help put on the program. This is the third year the organization has put together the exhibit.
“Usually in October it comes to the [Auburn] Public Library and that’s where it starts,” said volunteer and masters in social work student Gabrielle Boroden. “The last one is in July and that’s going to be the State Capitol. In between those people can request it and have it at different places.”
Work on this year’s exhibit began in May before last year’s exhibit finished its tour. The exhibit with more than 90 photos will travel to different locations in the state.
“I helped organize them into categories [for the exhibit],” Boroden said. “Some of the categories are kind of symbolic, like there’s one that’s the path to community and it’s all of the pictures of paths.”
Bravehearts participants took the photos with the help of volunteers. Staff members then selected the photos for the exhibit.
Volunteer and masters in social work student Kayla Thompson said putting on the exhibit each year allows the participants to explore their talents, which is one of the goals of the program.
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“The exhibit itself is meant to be an opportunity to display that talent they have and, of course, it’s more of a community inclusion piece,” Thompson said.
Part of Bravehearts mission is inclusion. The photography project and exhibit is a way to incorporate that into their daily activities as volunteers and participants take photos together.
This year, program directors wanted to spread the inclusion message beyond the planning stages of the exhibit. Bravehearts invited community and University organizations to partner up and visit the exhibit.
“It’s a way to engage people in the community that maybe would otherwise not engage with each other while having this experience of coming into contact with our organization,” Thompson said. “It’s all about connection and inclusion.”
Bravehearts participants hosted the organizations and showed them the various photographs in the exhibit.
Visitors were also treated to another addition to this year’s exhibit. Photographs had a QR code underneath. Viewers could scan the code on an app to find the video linked to the photo.
In those videos, participants talked about the photo, giving details on how they captured it and why they chose to take it.
“There was a lot of work put into making it a very interactive, welcoming experience,” Thompson said.
Participants love sharing their artwork and talking with guests about it, Thompson said.
“I feel like there’s a sense of pride there,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely a very rewarding experience. I think it’s mutually beneficial.”
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