Featuring photographs by Elias Williams
Featuring: El, Jay, King Tito Love, Mike, Peter, Roy, Var and Vince
Presented in partnership by United Photo Industries, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and Visible Ink
Printing support by Duggal
New York Photographer Elias Williams was tasked this summer to capture the creativity and leadership of men who have been harmed by gun violence, and who are all part of the OPEN DOORS arts and justice initiative. He is based at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler, a long-term care facility on Roosevelt Island where many of the members live and work. The members of the group use storytelling, hip-hop, and spoken word to challenge audiences to combat the injustice that breeds violence in New York City neighborhoods.
The members of the organization, some of them known as Reality Poets, return to the neighborhoods where they grew up, inform young people about the rarely considered consequences of gun violence, and encourage them to become positive change makers.
This collaboration, proudly produced and commissioned by United Photo Industries, with support from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, has been inspired by the Visible Ink, a writing program for Memorial Sloan Kettering patients, and OPEN DOORS in collaboration with NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler’s Department of Therapeutic Recreation.
Elias Williams is a New York based photographer making long-term work that highlights underrepresented communities and their cultural and historical significance. Through portraiture, he primarily focuses on the everyday people of these communities with dignity and admiration.
His photographs have been showcased at the LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts, ARTViews Gallery, Morris Museum and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Elias’ clients include AARP, BuzzFeed News, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Guardian, Mic, NPR, The New York Times, National Geographic, US News & World Report, and The Washington Post.
He is a 2017 Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow, and the recipient of a 2017 Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award.
Founded in 2008, Visible Ink is the largest writing program of its kind, serving Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) patients of all ages and backgrounds: during treatment, after treatment, and throughout long-term survivorship. The program is free of charge, and it is also open to MSK staff, caregivers, and those healing from loss. Visible Ink now welcomes participants from the New York City Hospitals (Coler, Queens Cancer Center, and Kings County Hospital).
Research has shown that expressive writing can reduce stress, nurture confidence and creativity, and enhance overall well-being. Visible Ink mentors help participants advance their creative horizons in any form they choose, from fiction, poetry, essay, drama, memoir, and beyond.
More than 2,400 participants have enrolled since the program began, producing more than 75,000 pages of writing, and more than 250 mentors have shared their expertise, including bestselling novelists, Tony and Emmy Award winners, poets, journalists, teachers, and editors for major print and online publications.
Each year Visible Ink publishes an anthology, and stages a performance of works by participants that features stars from Broadway, film and TV. Recent performers include Tony and Emmy Award-winning actors David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Susan Lucci, and Hamilton star Marc delaCruz.
The mission of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MoME) is to promote New York City’s creative industries, including film, television, theater, music, publishing, advertising, and digital content, and support their growth across the five boroughs.
New York City’s creative industries account for more than 305,000 local jobs and have an economic impact of $104 billion. MoME comprises four key divisions: the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NYC Media, the Office of Nightlife, and Educational and Workforce Development Initiatives.
The Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting coordinates film and television production throughout the five boroughs. NYC Media is the largest municipal television and radio broadcasting entity in the country, with a reach of eighteen million viewers. The Office of Nightlife serves as a central point of contact between the nightlife industry, community, and the City agencies to promote responsible growth, diversity, and quality of life for all New Yorkers–and visitors, from around the world.
MoME also leads a variety of educational and workforce development initiatives, to support the development of the creative industries, and to help create jobs for New Yorkers.
United Photo Industries (UPI) is a New York City based nonprofit organization that works to promote a wider understanding of, and increased access to, the art of photography.
Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first seven years, UPI has presented the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide.
Proudly devoted to cultivating strategic partnerships, creative collaborations, and community spirit, UPI approaches its mission of cultivating a wide, diverse audience for powerful photographic narratives with unrelenting zeal, working closely with photo festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations across the globe to create new exhibition opportunities—and we are only getting started!