My exhibition As We Are – Disability: Portraits of A Community is a series of portraits of the disability community of The City University of New York – students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators. It opens at the Baruch College Library on November 2nd and will run through April.

The eighteen people whose portraits I made are the story. People with disabilities in our society are often invisible, they’re seen as weird, or mostly we don’t know how to deal with them. Every person I photographed surprised me by their strength and energy. They’re engaged, they volunteer, they live life to its fullest. It was my intention to reveal their pride and strength, not to highlight their disabilities.

Accompanying each portrait is a statement written by the participant. They tell us about their lives, their hopes and accomplishments, putting their disabilities in perspective. You can also listen to each person read their own statement.

I invite you to see the 24×36″ photographs at the Baruch Library, 25th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Go up the stairs after entering and introduce yourself to security and they’ll point your way!

Darlene Bertil, Queensborough Community College Student

To read Darlene’s story, click here.
To hear Darlene’s story, click below.

 

Dean of Student Affairs

Dr. Chris Rosa, City University of New York Dean for Student Affairs

To read Chris’s story, click here.
To hear Chris’s story, click below.

 

Gladys Esquijarosa, Baruch College Student

To read Gladys’s story, click here.
To hear Gladys’s story, click below.

 

Marybeth Melendez, College of Staten Island Student

To read Marybeth’s story, click here.
To hear Marybeth’s story, click below.

 

Psychologist, faculty at Baruch College

Dr. David Sitt, Baruch College Alumnus

To read David’s story, click here.
To hear David’s story, click below.

 

Jason Sammut, Baruch College Alumnus

To read Jason’s story, click here.
To hear Jason’s story, click below.

 

Vidya Ramchan, York College Student

To read Vidya’s story, click here.
To hear Vidya’s story, click below.

 

Graduate of Baruch College, 2013

Muhammad Javed, Baruch College Student

To read Muhammad’s story, click here.
To hear Muhammad’s story, click below.

Lolita Kravchenko, accounting student at Baruch College

Lolita Kravchenko, Baruch College Student

To read Lolita’s story, click here.
To hear Lolita’s story, click below.

 

John Cardinale

Dr. John Cardinale, Baruch College Alumnus

To read John’s story, click here.
To hear John’s story, click below.

 

Director at Computer Center for Visually Impaired People, Baruch College

Dr. Karen Gourgey, Director, Computer Center for Visually Impaired, Baruch College

To read Karen’s story, click here.
To hear Karen’s story, click below.

 

College of Staten Island

George Vega, College of Staten Island Graduate Student

To read George’s story, click here.
To hear George’s story, click below.

 

Javier Alvarado, Baruch College Student

To read Javier’s story, click here.
To hear Javier’s story, click below.

 

Lawyer, runs non-profit called Wheeling Forward

Alex Elegudin, Brooklyn College Alumnus

To read Alex’s story, click here.
To hear Alex’s story, click below.

 

College of Staten Island

Miranda Alicea, College of Staten Island Student

To read Miranda’s story, click here.
To hear Miranda’s story, click below.

 

Student at LaGuardia Community College

Anna Reifman, Laguardia College Student

To read Anna’s story, click here.
To hear Anna’s story, click below.

 

Liliete Lopez, Queens College Student

To read Liliete’s story, click here.
To hear Liliete’s story, click below.

 

Baruch College, Bursar's office

Julie Culley, Baruch College Staff

To read Julie’s story, click here.
To hear Julie’s story, click below.

 

Overview, written by Baruch Disability Services
It was 10 years ago that one of several key disability non-discrimination laws was reauthorized.
The U.S. Congress affirmed that “Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no
way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society.” This collection
of portraits and accompanying personal narratives empowers eighteen members of the CUNY
disability community to depict themselves as they see themselves; in their “natural state;” in
their own words, and on their own terms. This group of individuals–from cross-disability
backgrounds–acquired their disabilities in different ways, at different times in their lives, and
have incorporated their disability into their own personal stories in distinctive, holistic, and very
powerful ways. They share a common burning desire to be recognized as they actually are:
unobscured by the animus and stigma typically associated with disability; unclouded by the
assumptions often linked to the disability experience. Baruch College–where disability is richly
woven into the diverse fabric of all aspects of campus life–is a natural home for this collection.

Acknowledgements
I am so grateful to thank Barbara Sirois for finding me and trusting me to fulfill her vision for this project,
thought up over ten years ago. And, to her team at the Baruch Office of Disability Services. My thanks
also go to Lisa Edwards, Assistant Vice President of Campus Facilities at Baruch, who found and created the amazing gallery with her highly skilled team. And, Baruch’s Vice President of Information Services; he’s in charge of all things library. This show would not have happened without the blessing and constant support of Lisa and Art over the four years that it took to open the exhibition. Finally, the Visual Solutions team at Duggal, led by Glenn Rabbach. Many thanks. You truly went above and beyond: from consulting on the best way to create the exhibit, make the prints and mount them under plexiglass. It was a team effort.