SEPT 2023 / Seeing for Ourselves Participatory Photography Exhibition

Exhibition: Sept 6 - 29, 2023
Location: Islip Arts Council Gallery
Medium: Photography
Curator: Denise Bibro
FILM SHOWING: Sept 9 / 1pm

The exhibit which has been several years in the making, is curated by Denise Bibro of Denise Bibro Fine Art, Manhattan, and produced by master printer and fine art photographer Holly Gordon.

The exhibit showcases the work of the Bay Shore nonprofit SFO, which has been punching considerably above its weight since its 2010 founding with the mission of empowering the marginalized to take control of their own public narrative by documenting their lives photographically.

SFO’s first effort, on behalf of NYC public housing residents (2010-2013), led to the publication of Project Lives: New York Public Housing Residents Photograph Their World (powerhouse, 2015). The global acclaim greeting the work, reinforced by gallery exhibits of the work around the city, encouraged the city and state to restart public housing support and led the city to ask the nonprofit to conduct a similar program for New Yorkers on probation—another marginalized population. Thanks to the advocacy of New York’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) helped fund this effort.

In a Whole New Way, the half-hour film documenting the new initiative (2018-2021), continues to receive acclaim on the film festival circuit—honored by 200 festivals around the world in 2021-23. The work has won over 60 awards, including Best Documentary, Best Human Rights Film, Best Black Lives Matter Film, Best Social Justice Film, Most Original Idea, and Most Inspirational Film. (The Love Wins International Film Festival in Patchogue was a local win.) Viewing the documentary as a unique cultural asset, the national probation industry will be utilizing the film to help reform America’s criminal justice system. Here is the film’s trailer. Gallery exhibits around the city punctuated this initiative as well. The eponymous companion book was published in June (Prospecta Press).

Meanwhile, the nonprofit has embarked upon its third effort, “My Climate Future: High-Schoolers Picture Their World to Come.” A proof-of-concept was successfully conducted in Cape Elizabeth, Maine this past spring. SFO has applied for NEA funding of a combined effort in Maine and Suffolk County, New York beginning the 2024-25 school year. The IAC Gallery exhibit will include photography from all three programs. The books Project Lives and In a Whole New Way will be offered for sale.

Lynda Moran, Executive Director of IAC, had this to say: “The IAC is proud to host this exhibit showing how this unusual style of photography can help so many. We believe that all those interested in the arts and/or social justice will find this peek into unknown worlds fascinating.”

George Carrano, Bay Shore resident and Executive Director of SFO, said the following: “We are thrilled to be partnering on this exhibit with IAC, which has built a reputation for innovative programming on the South Shore. The support shown by this arts organization in our backyard will be very helpful in broadening the audience for participatory photography, and the cause of helping those whose voices have not been heard.”




Founded in 1974, the Islip Arts Council is dedicated to leadership, advocacy, and excellence in the arts. Our goal is to present, produce, and promote culturally responsive, high quality programs in varied artistic disciplines for our diverse Long Island community.


Offices & Gallery
South Shore Mall
1701 Sunrise Highway, N1
Bay Shore, NY 11706
(Next to Dick's Sporting Goods)
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11am–4pm
Closed Sunday and Monday