Photographer and artist Valerie Vaughn hopes her photography project, “I Am The Change,” will not only speak to the hearts and minds of viewers, but also inspire conversations about race, relationships, and diversity.
The community-relations photography exhibition “I Am The Change” opening reception with Vaughn will be on Wednesday, May 17, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave. in Tulsa.
Read how I AM THE CHANGE created a microcosm of change for one family here.
Vaughn began the project after a lifetime of witnessing injustices in the criminal justice system, exposure to systemic racism, and the unjustified police killings of unarmed black men and women which have saturated social media. The project evolved into a proactive initiative and community-relations campaign to address relationships in society along culturally diverse and racial lines.
One relationship she wanted was to show solidarity between the religious community and the LGTBQ community. Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Sr. Minister of All Souls, answered Vaughn’s call and a photo of him with her brother, Jarrod Rollins, was taken in the All Souls Sanctuary.
“It was important to have an image that expressed unity between religion and the LGTBQ community,” said Vaughn. “All Souls is an inclusive church which embraces individuals for who they are and having Rev. Lavanhar standing beside my brother, who I support fiercely, made an image which captured that unity perfectly.”
Hundreds attended the premiere of “I Am The Change” earlier this year at 1219 Creative in Oklahoma City. The year-long photography project started with a call for white models to stand in solidarity with people of color. “This photography project emphasizes the importance of joining in solidarity, and with empathy, for those that may not look like you or have similar life experiences to you,” Vaughn said. “The mission is to acknowledge injustices as we unite to shine light on the importance of the contributions we each must make to ensure our society, as a whole, is able to move forward while embracing differences as a means for appreciated diversity instead of division.”
“I Am The Change” will be open during regular business hours at All Souls in the gallery, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The exhibition will include a video presentation of all the photos in the project overlaid with a reading from poet and activist Natalia Callard.