Showcasing Resilience and Empowerment on the World Stage
In a powerful display of resilience, courage, and hope, the Perelman Performing Arts Center in New York is hosting the photographic exhibition titled “Emotions to Generate Change – Women’s Cry” during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Curated by Lia Beltrami in collaboration with the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication, this exhibition had previously been showcased in May at the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.
From the spiritual heart of the Vatican to Ground Zero, the exhibition’s presentation at the United Nations General Assembly emphasizes peace, reconciliation, and a brighter future for humanity. With its inaugural display at the Bernini Colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, the exhibition captivated audiences with 26 striking photographs taken by eight renowned photographers from around the world. Each image bears witness to the indomitable spirit of women in remote regions and war-torn countries.
Once again, the exhibition finds itself in an extraordinary location: the newly inaugurated Perelman Arts Center, standing in the same place where the World Trade Center once stood before the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Synergized by various entities, including the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations UMOFC-WUCWO, the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication, and the Handshake agency, the Women’s Cry exhibition was brought to life. During the event, Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Perelman Arts Center, delivered introductory remarks, followed by Alessandro Gisotti, the deputy editorial director of Vatican media. Gisotti emphasized that this exhibition shares stories of fraternity, reconciliation, and the fight against discrimination while upholding human dignity and integral human development. Each photograph is accompanied by a quote from Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Fratelli tutti, further emphasizing the exhibition’s message.
Spanning locations from Togo to Ukraine, from the Amazon to Bangladesh, the Women’s Cry exhibition not only amplifies the voices of women but also highlights the hope they bring to their communities, their people, and the world at large. Gisotti quoted Marshall McLuhan’s definition of photography as “writing with light,” stating that these photographs exude light – the light that emanates from the courage of women. These women, be they mothers, daughters, or working professionals, overcome countless obstacles to forge a better future for their loved ones. The exhibition aims to inspire visitors to carry a piece of this radiant light and contribute to a brighter world.
Lia Beltrami, the curator of the exhibition, emphasized the overarching theme of hope that characterizes the stories depicted in the images. The exhibition showcases the tenacity of women who overcome formidable challenges for the betterment of their families and communities. This display of strength and determination serves as a beacon of inspiration for all who encounter it.
Prior to the exhibition’s presentation, women also took center stage at the international office of Religions for Peace, located in front of the United Nations building. They screened the docufilm “Guardians of the Rainforest,” a collaboration between Lia and Marianna Beltrami. This thought-provoking work, supported by the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, sheds light on indigenous women fighting to protect rainforests in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Borneo. Following the screening, a discussion was held on the crucial role of indigenous peoples, particularly women, in safeguarding Creation.
The participation of Gabriel Labbate, head of the Climate Mitigation Unit of UNEP (the UN Environment Program), further underscored the significance of the theme and the documentary film in promoting environmental conservation and cultural preservation.
Through the “Women’s Cry” exhibition and related events, the world is reminded of the strength, resilience, and hope that women bring to their communities. These women’s voices and stories illuminate the path towards a brighter future for all.