An art collaboration led by artist Pamela Hovland with the broader community of Westport, the As We Are! full gallery installation presented a local perspective on identity and stereotype that people of all demographics encounter daily.
Opening on Friday, January 27 at the Westport Arts Center, the exhibition featured portraits of students, community leaders, business professionals, artists, immigrants, religious figures, cultural influencers and elected officials who contributed personal material to express their individual views and experiences with labels and the power of words.
Following the MORE Than Words fall series exploring the same themes, a postcard prompting a response to “I AM MORE THAN ___” was answered by more than 500 participants who contributed their declaration, often after considerable thought as to how they believe they are perceived.
The community’s contributions both revealed and concealed personal identities that created insight, compassion, and a reevaluation of how we perceive and label ourselves and each other. The words were as varied as the people who participated. Among them, “I am more than … my grades … a housewife … my bank account … bi-polar … gay … Jewish … a twin … middle-aged … my pretty clothes … a mailman … a bald guy … an immigrant … a nun.”
“Words really do matter,” Pamela Hovland stated. “As a designer and artist, I’m interested in both the formal and semantic qualities of language. And as a member of this community, I’m interested in finding compelling ways to share our diverse personal stories. I hope this exhibition serves as a reminder that the labels we place on each other will never adequately capture the complexity of our humanity.”