Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Identity

The Arlington Center for the Arts, in partnership with the Vision 2020 Diversity Task Group, presents a challenging and timely photography exhibit by Kevin J. Briggs, “Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Identity.”  The exhibition aims to shine a much-needed light on pressing social issues of race, faith, gender, sexual identity and the power of words to bring us together…or tear us apart.

On view in the Gibbs Gallery at the Arlington Center for the Arts from March 7 – April 15, this exhibit takes the viewer on a journey to probe their consciousness and the experiences of others as they view 15 black and white portraits of everyday people in the categories of race, faith, gender, and sexual identity.  Seated before a deep black backdrop, Briggs’ subjects gaze directly out at the viewer, while projections of derogatory slurs and stereotypes wrap around their bodies and hover around them, asking us all to consider the power and effect of these words on the daily lives of these individuals, groups, and, ultimately, on all of us as a community and society.  Personal narratives accompanying each portrait add to the power and complexity of the narrative Briggs creates with this exhibition.

The public is warmly invited to a free meet-the-artist reception on Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 pm.  Mr. Briggs will also present an Artist Talk on Saturday, April 2 at 2:00 pm to discuss the powerful stories underlying these stunning photographs.

Kevin J. Briggs, an accomplished photographer whose previous work has received Certificates of Achievement at both the 7th and 8th Annual Black & White Spider Awards International Showcase, brings this thought-provoking photography exhibit to the Arlington Center for the Arts fresh off of successful runs at both Gallery Seven in Maynard and the Harriet Tubman Gallery in Boston. 

The exhibit was inspired, in part, by Briggs’s own experiences with racial bias and discrimination. Briggs, who is black, recalls one instance in particular that shaped his thinking about this powerful exhibit; just a few years ago, while leaving his former office in Boston’s Financial District one night, he recounts being harassed by building security for appearing “lost.” Briggs, shocked, asserted that he worked in that office – but the not-so-subtle implication of the guard’s words, that he did not belong there, stung. It became clear to Briggs that, despite how he perceived himself, the color of his skin meant that he was perceived, and treated, differently by others.

“I’m often asked what inspired me to create this image of myself,” says Briggs. “My response to this question has never wavered. When I look at the mirror I see me, but when others look at me or someone of a similar complexion to me, I am often made to feel that they see me/us as one of these labels…My hope is that this image and the others in this series will raise awareness around the conscious and unconscious bias within ourselves and that which is exhibited daily within our own society and globally.”