IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: Guidotti speaks to an MGH audience.
In a brief moment on a Manhattan street corner, fashion photographer Rick Guidotti became an ambassador for change. He saw a girl with white hair and white skin who defied beauty’s boundaries and made him want to learn everything he could about albinism.
“I traveled the world as a fashion photographer, working for clients such as L’Oreal, Revlon and Yves Saint Laurent, but this chance encounter inspired me to seek out others like her. I poured through medical books. The images of albinism were of sickness and despair. Something was missing from almost all – humanity.”
Earlier this week, Guidotti presented his work, “Positive Exposure,” in the O’Keeffe Auditorium, in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Founded in 1998, Guidotti’s nonprofit organization, Positive Exposure, uses photography and video to highlight the beauty of genetic diversity, challenging the stigmas associated with differences in appearance.
“My entire career I was always told who was beautiful. I am an artist. I don’t just see beauty on the cover of a magazine,” says Guidotti.
Guidotti was determined to find a way to show the beauty of genetic disorders through an unfiltered lens. Over the past 15 years, he has traveled throughout the world photographing and recording hundreds of people who live with genetic conditions from Down syndrome to dwarfism to Marfan syndrome. He has collaborated with advocacy organizations, medical schools and various educational institutions. In addition, his work has been featured in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, the Atlantic Monthly, Life magazine, the Washington Post and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History – all in an effort to change societal attitudes toward genetic differences.
“My daughter has cerebral palsy, and people often say it’s too bad she is disabled because she’s so beautiful,” said Nathalie Korpics, training specialist in the Department of Radiology, who attended the presentation. “It’s like saying she’s almost perfect – but not quite.”
Guidotti said people often remark on his departure from the fashion industry and its stark contrast to his new focus. He simply responds, “I’ve never photographed a disability. I still photograph beauty.”
For more information about Positive Exposure, visit positiveexposure.org. Guidotti will exhibit his work at the MGH in 2014. n
Read more articles from the 10/25/13 Hotline issue.