This past weekend marked a new milestone for actress and film producer Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes—who first won our attention at this year’s Sundance with the short film Rabbit. Hundreds of volunteers, visitors, artists and athletes joined her inside and outdoors at NYC’s Brookfield Place, where she and actor Diego Osorio helmed a large-scale art and awareness program: (dis)ABLED InsideOut. There, Huyghues Despointes and Osorio greeted a photo booth truck belonging to French artist JR and lent their own voices to his people’s art project InsideOut. And as throngs of differently abled people arrived to have their portraits taken, the experience felt powerful. (dis)ABLED InsideOut wants to offer a voice to those without, and it’s only just begun.
“Our first gathering day was a total success,” Huyghues Despointes shares with CH. “We got to take approximately 600 portraits of individuals believing in the cause. It was fantastic to see smiles on everyone’s faces. It was even more fantastic to see people’s positive reactions, telling me they felt like part of something important—and to see excitement from people usually hiding from cameras.” Huyghues Despointes is seeking 3,000 portraits total—welcoming those with any sort of disability, as well as those who want to support the cause. In October, Disability Awareness Month, all 3,000 portraits will be pasted in an iconic, public NYC location for the world to see. “I feel blessed. I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more. The movement is on!” she continues.
One of the event’s volunteer photographers, Emily Metzguer, shares her own experience: “Like many InsideOut projects the cause is noble and necessary. Being a part of a movement that utilizes photography for awareness, to educate, as a proponent of change… it’s a dream. The success of the first day is a testament to Lele, JR, hardworking volunteers and interns, the participants and their support systems, and of course the power of imagery.”
(dis)ABLED InsideOut will host more public events in the coming months, with a view in mind to hit all five boroughs, en route to collecting all of the images they need. Information will be posted on their website. With an environment so welcoming, beautiful and creative, and a good message at its core, it’s public art worth participating in.
Images by Emily Metzguer