What We Have Within

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Exhibition Page


November 3, 2014
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Greg Svitil | T: 202.370.0147
[email protected] | AMAmuseum.org

What We Have Within

Organization of American States
1889 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 12 at 6pm
On view:
October 14, 2014 - January 9, 2015
By appointment only, Mon-Fri from 9am to 5pm
Please call 202-370-0149

WASHINGTON, DC –  The Organization of American States’ AMA | Art Museum of the Americas and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights present “What We Have Within,” an exhibition of photographs promoting freedom of expression and human rights regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This exhibition is presented as a visual arts representation of OAS work in the promotion of democracy and equality.“What We Have Within” is part of FotoWeek DC, and expounds upon the values of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its mission of promoting equality and social justice.

Over the past several years, FotoWeek DC has earned its reputation for evoking discussion on relevant social issues, so it is only fitting that AMA’s “What We Have Within” be part of its 2014 programming as an exhibition promoting equality and human rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation or personal identity. More specifically, this exhibition explores how six photographers document diverse processes of visually tangible ways of externalizing essential aspects of our psyche, beliefs, affiliations, or sexual identity.  The artists represented in this exhibition break with convention and reinforce a desire for free and genuine expression, in some cases even as a means of transformation and questioning prejudices and discrimination.

Inasmuch as part of this exhibition has a clear component regarding sexual and gender diversity, the AMA has partnered with the Rapporteurship on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Persons (LGBTI) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to support this exhibition. The IACHR promotes and protects the human rights of LGBTI persons in the Americas through this Rapporteurship.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are aspects pertaining to the most protected areas of the private lives of every individual. According to standards developed by the IACHR, speech that expresses one’s sexual orientation and gender identity should enjoy a special level of protection because it expresses an integral element of personal identity and dignity.

Art has traditionally been used to empower people and is often one of the most compelling ways of expressing ideas, especially regarding issues that seemed socially taboo. Violence faced by many persons in the Americas because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity has a deep root in prejudice, discrimination and lack of societal acceptance of diversity. What We Have Within breaks that silence and allows for a discussion to begin; a discussion about our identities, our orientations, our diversity.  

This selection of six series includes a range of artistic approaches, from public representation, as with Barnett, Birnbaum and Allen, to those more intimate and private, as in the works of Handal, Keenan, and Paul.

The six series are: TransCuba by Mariette Pathy Allen (American, b. Egypt), Not in Your Face by Susan Barnett (American, b. Orange, New Jersey), Sisters of the Commonwealth by Meg Birnbaum, (American, b. Somerville, Massachusetts), Female Masking by Daniel Handal (Honduran, b. Tegucigalpa), Look at Me David Lykes Keenan, (American, b. Detroit, Michigan), and Insects of Suriname by Dominique Paul (Canadian, b. Montreal, Québec).

It is only fitting that this exhibition comes to AMA | Art Museum of the Americas. AMA’s  work is based on the principle that the arts are transformative for individuals and communities.  This serves to promote the core values of the Organization of American States (OAS) by providing a space for cultural expression, creativity, dialogue and learning, highlighting themes such as democracy, development, human rights, justice, freedom of expression, and innovation. AMA provides a visual arts component that, through this exhibit, complements and expounds artistically on the ideals of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its work.  This is achieved by showcasing cutting-edge exhibits of artists whose output creatively combine aesthetics with topical social and political issues and by establishing a dialogue of these works with AMA’s Permanent Collection.