Community Shares Personal Stories through ‘Transformative Narratives’

If a picture represents 1,000 words, then each of the artistically embellished photographic portraits of strength, struggle, and experience currently on display in the Ferst Center for the Arts Gallery tells a full-length novel.   

Members of the Georgia Tech community are sharing their personal stories through Transformative Narratives, a traveling exhibit that was first debuted at the Eighth Annual Diversity Symposium in September. 

This exhibit features 24 members of the campus community and showcases the rich tapestry of diversity at Tech through personal stories. 

“There is power in visual narratives, and I am pleased we’ve come together in this way to offer the gift of our stories to one another,” said Pearl Alexander, executive director of Staff Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement in Institute Diversity and co-organizer of the exhibit. “The steering committee did an amazing job of shepherding this collection into being.”

Office of the Arts Director Madison Cario remarked, “To date, more than 5,000 visitors have experienced the power of the Transformative Narratives exhibit in the Ferst Center for the Arts, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The exhibit displays courageous messages of self-expression that we hope will inspire others to celebrate their own wonderful diversities.”

The steering committee worked with artist Adam Mastoon to capture images of the subjects, and local contributing artists helped individuals express their stories with words, images, and artistry that complemented their narratives. 

Together, the portraits highlight the array of unique identities and life experiences held by members of the Tech community, many of which fall outside traditional notions of diversity. 

Participants range from second-year students to seasoned staff and faculty members. Their stories capture varied aspects of their personal journeys but share a common thread of introspection and self-expression.   

Ultimately, the exhibit is designed to enhance and deepen personal awareness, and engender connection, empathy, and compassion for all who experience it. 

The collection of museum quality portraits is also scheduled to be on display at the Bill Moore Student Success Center, Scheller College of Business, Smithgall Student Services (Flag) Building, and other campus locations in the year ahead. 

“We encourage campus partners who host the physical exhibit to create space for viewers’ self-reflection and dialogue about aspects of their own unique identities,” said Cheryl Cofield, director of inclusion and engagement for Institute Diversity and curator of the exhibit. “As a starting place, the campus community can view the digital exhibit online. Additionally, we hope to feature more community members through future iterations of Transformative Narratives as well as other creative storytelling mediums.” 

Transformative Narratives is one of three initiatives from this year’s Diversity and Inclusion proposal to the Strategic Plan Advisory Group. Other initiatives underway include the creation of Diversity and Inclusion Councils and the emerging Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program.

To request hosting the collection, contact transformativenarratives@gatech.edu. To view the digital exhibit, visit sdie.gatech.edu/transformative-narratives

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Click on image(s) to view larger version(s)

  • Suzy Harrington at Transformative Narratives Debut

  • Transformative Narratives - Rick

  • Transformative Narratives - Alice

  • Transformative Narratives at Diversity Symposium

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Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications

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