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“We, at the Trust, firmly believe in the power of art as a catalyst for social change and hope that the community engages in a meaningful, honest exchange of ideas and dialogue around the OpticVoices exhibit,” says Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President, Strategic Partnership and Community Engagement/Director of Jazz Programs for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “This is essential to the mission for the programming at the August Wilson Center.”
This innovative multi-media exhibit allows the viewer to experience the passion and diversity that unites a broad cross-section to be heard. This exhibit presents an authentic and true narrative of these social change agents through the lens of captivating and thought-provoking imagery.
How does it works? Once the audience views the image; they are charged with captioning the photos on exhibit tablets to share with the world, fostering conversations that lead to social change; the Optic is provided and you provide the Voice.
OpticVoices presents different mediums for people to engage in conversation on topics ranging from Black Lives Matter, oppression, racism, homophobia and xenophobia to the support and success of young black males. Through this exhibit, participants will be able to ask the hard questions: what does it mean to be heard?
Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments commented, “Is this what we have come to, that even little children must assert their humanity? His images raise questions that should make us uncomfortable, angry, uplifted, empathetic and brave. At a time of resurgent racism, when a movement rooted in a simple demand for respect and dignity has been greeted with so much anger and scorn, Emmai’s images, like the protests they chronicle, bear witness to the spirit of hope and defiance that is our only path forward as a people.”
“In the face of the false and negative reporting in the media, it is imperative that the true story behind the movement for justice and humanity be told in every facet” said Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability. “Nothing more powerful…nothing more real, than the raw emotion captured in these visuals, voicing the authentic meaning of the movement for Black lives. This is our narrative.”
Alaquiva is the founder and CEO of Ya Momz House, Inc., a full service multimedia company located in Pittsburgh. He is the founder of Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K, an award-winning arts education program. Alaquiva’s work transcends borders across the world, establishing him as the “go to” visionary for CBS, NBC, PBS, Questlove and the late Dr. Maya Angelou. He is a five-time Telly Award-winner recognized for his community service by Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40, The New Pittsburgh Courier’s FAB 40, WHIRL Magazine’s 50 Finest as well as a proclamation from Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
Alaquiva was recently awarded as a 2016 national BMe Community Leader and recognized by President Barack Obama.
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.