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Gulf Coast Community Foundation Supports Michael Kinsey’s Exhibit at Art Center Sarasota

Read how photographer Michael Kinsey of Sarasota Magazine’s “Listening to Black Voices” will exhibit powerful photographs on the richness of Sarasota’s Black community.

Presented by Gulf Coast Community Foundation January 23, 2024

"Gale Fulton Ross” is one of the portraits to be exhibited at Art Center Sarasota.

Thousands of readers have been introduced to Sarasota Magazine’s “Listening to Black Voices” series highlighting important Black leaders in our community. Striking black and white photographs accompany the moving articles and now, a selection of those photographs will be on display for the public to experience.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast) awarded a $15,000 grant to Art Center Sarasota made possible by the Frank and Elsie Bushroe Charitable Fund. The grant will underwrite Views from the New Horizon: Portraits from Sarasota Magazine’s “Listening to Black Voices” Series on exhibit from March 14 – April 20, 2024 at Art Center Sarasota by photographer Michael Kinsey. Kinsey, a native of Sarasota, shares, “The individuals in the photographs are all people who, for the most part, started life at a point where the color of their skin was a strike against them in nearly every academic, business, and social situation. Their world looked one way at the beginning of their journey. They’ve come through the other side and the horizons before them all look very different. New. I want these photos to spark healthy conversations.”

Michael Kinsey is the Sarasota photographer exhibiting at Art Center Sarasota with “Views from the New Horizon: Portraits from Sarasota Magazine’s ‘Listening to Black Voices’ Series.”

Art Center Sarasota has successfully partnered with Gulf Coast on two community impact exhibitions – one exploring the affordable housing crisis by Susan Sidebottom and another supporting local artist Karen Arango on the stigmas surrounding mental health in Latin X communities. Art Center Sarasota is a unique, free admission art gallery which welcomes the public. Heather Dunhill’s “Listening to Black Voices” interview series, published in Sarasota Magazine, has documented the lives and stories of leaders in Sarasota’s Black community and most of those interviews have been accompanied by a portrait created by Kinsey. Gulf Coast is a presenting sponsor of Sarasota Magazine’s “Listening to Black Voices” and “Listening to Diverse Voices” series. This new collaboration between Sarasota Magazine, Gulf Coast, and Art Center Sarasota gives viewers a chance to take a closer look at the photographs.

“Art Center Sarasota is a hub for our community, where visitors can see themselves featured in the art. We are thrilled to partner with Michael Kinsey to highlight the contributions and experiences of local leaders,” said Gulf Coast’s Director of Community Leadership Jennifer Johnston.

The exhibit will consist of an intimate selection of works chosen from the nearly 50 portraits shot by Kinsey. Accompanying the selections will be brief interviews and snippets of background information for each of his subjects. The show highlights the richness and diversity of Sarasota’s Black community, through the power of Kinsey’s lens, and introduces the viewer to dozens of exceptional individuals who call our city home.

"Henry Hunter" will be on exhibit at Art Center Sarasota.

Kinsey shared, “My work on ‘Listening to Black Voices’ has simply tried to echo the message of Black people since the civil rights movement. I’ve tried to say with every photo, ‘We are here. See us for who we are.’ And I believe my work, as a collective, mirrors the core of that human condition. We are all people seeking connection – trying and learning to receive and give love.”

Transforming Together

We sat down with photographer Michael Kinsey, Art Center Sarasota's exhibitions director, Christina Baril, and Kinsey Robb, executive director of Art Center Sarasota, to learn more. Baril shared, “Gulf Coast Community Foundation has been instrumental in allowing us to showcase local artists who would not have had the resources or opportunities to put on a solo exhibition. This has been extremely impactful in highlighting critical issues facing our community.”

Robb commented, “Art provides the public an opportunity to address social issues in a more dynamic and personal way. These grants from Gulf Coast have given us the opportunity to provide panel discussions with experts in the field that our artists are tackling every day, bringing together individuals who are impacted personally.”

We asked Michael Kinsey what his inspiration was when taking the photographs. “It’s been almost exclusively about the eyes and expression. I give kudos to the creative team at Sarasota Magazine for asking for the photos in black and white. I did some research on black and white photographs, and I thought this is an even bigger opportunity because it’s about contrast and sculpting with light,” said Kinsey.

“Barbara Langston” will be featured in the exhibit at Art Center Sarasota.

When Kinsey was asked for a story to share from the series, he smiled. “The very first portrait for the series is memorable. It was the portrait of civil rights leader Dr. Willie Clemons. We met at the entrance of the Ringling Museum, and I was so mesmerized by his face. I asked him to take his glasses off for a photograph. He was cautious, but once I convinced him, he saw the photo, laughed, and immediately loved it. That was the photo the magazine chose to use.”

On why it is important to highlight Black leaders in our community through the exhibit, Kinsey shared, “I don’t think there’s ever been a more important time in American history where Black people, specifically young Black people, need mentorship, leadership, and vision. Every person in the series is not just interesting and charismatic, but I think their stories and what they can impart are important. We absolutely need to be aware of the journeys that these amazing people have been on.”

Kinsey’s final words? “There are so many talented and gifted people from this area who look like me who are falling through the cracks because there’s no opportunity to learn. Let’s put a paint brush in a kid’s hand and show them what to do with it. I would like to see opportunities broaden for the young people in our community that are here with talent.”

For information on accompanying events with the exhibit, click here