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Faith and Values

Lexington Women Of Color Who Lead: In Honor of VP Kamala Harris

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Photo courtesy of Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde
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A pair of Transylvania University professors and artists created a collection of photographs featuring  more than 46 Lexington women of color who are leaders in their communities.

The exhibition to honor and celebrate Kamala Harris, our 46th Vice President of the United States is posted online.

On a recent Thursday afternoon in Lexington, Preeti Gupta met on the back porch of her home with Transylvania University professors and artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, for a photo session.

Gupta’s picture is one of more than 46 photos of Lexington women of color leading in their communities.

Her photo is part of artwork honoring and celebrating Kamala Harris as 46th Vice President of the United States and women of color who lead. Gupta, a realtor, enjoys organizing educational opportunities in the community and also helps people who are new in town. She recalls moving to Lexington from India nearly 29 years ago. “I remember when I came here it was hard and I was very lucky enough to have other Indian community members who helped me. And I love to do that, you know, give back to the community” said Gupta

Gupta says she’s humbled and excited to be included in the artwork.

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Credit Photo courtesy of Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde
Nima Desai, who started the Neonatal unit at the University of Kentucky Hospital. She was photographed with her husband at their home.

In mid-March of last year places like universities, public schools and coffee houses in Kentucky began to shut down amid the pandemic. It was then Todorova and Gohde started the artwork they named, "Lexington in the Time of COVID-19." Todorova said every day they would photograph people from a variety of neighborhoods, on their porches or in their yards while social distancing and ask them to talk about how they were managing. She said their idea with the artwork was to find a way to connect people across the city of Lexington who may not know each other and continue to build community.

“To do that is also a way of giving people hope because at the beginning of the pandemic so few things were known. Things felt really different and a lot of people were on edge and a lot of people seemed to be spending time on social media. It was also our way of documenting peoples’ lives during this pandemic because we were very aware that we were living in unusual times,” said Todorova.

The photographs evolved into collections of different groups of people in the community. Gohde said that includes people within the school system, people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, and musicians. He said this new collection, "Lexington women of color who are leaders in their communities" is one of the most robust and well -developed collections of the entire art project. Gohde said one exciting aspect for him and Todorova is being able to share thoughts and ideas from people who are not typically interviewed .“And realizing that not only are their insights unique and powerful , they’re insights that we need as a culture and as a community to hear,” said Gohde.

The pair of professors on a Friday this month made their way to the home of Dr. Isabel Escobar .

Escobar, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky was born in Brazil and came to the U.S. 29 years ago. Even though she just met Gohde and Todorova for the first time, she said she’s familiar with the artwork: "Lexington in the time of COVID-19." The photographs are helpful when many people are afraid she said. “It was a hope kind of work to me. Everyone was so afraid to leave their houses and interact with other human beings and it humanized everyone again,”Escobar.

The 47-year-old is an accomplished leader in many ways as associate director for UK’s Center for Membrane Sciences and co-director of the College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, yet she was surprised to be included in this collection of photos of Lexington women of color who lead. She’s honored by this opportunity. She said women of color are frequently overlooked. “Younger generations will be able to see women that look like them being influential,”said Escobar.

Professors and artists Gohde and Todorova said their goal of photographing 46 Lexington women of color who are leaders in their communities now includes over 50 photos because so many women recommended others. Todorova said she was moved by women’s desire to prop each other up. “And to get recognition for each other and how connections are reaching way beyond traditional ethnic and racial boundaries, that has been really amazing to me,”said Todorova.

The collection of photographs featuring women of color in Lexington who lead can be viewed at the online exhibition titled "Lexington in the Time of COVID-19".

https://lextimecovid19.com/?

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If you appreciate access to this important content during this global pandemic, please help us continue to provide public service journalism and information to Central and Eastern Kentucky communities.