The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center will present Through the White Door, a documentary photo project by photojournalist Smiley Pool that portrays the interconnected human experience of families affected by HIV/AIDS, at The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale (2414 East Sunrise Blvd.) from April 8 – 30. The exhibition, consisting of 40 poignant images from South Africa, Romania, North Carolina, Texas and beyond, depicts the life struggles and triumphs of children and families affected by HIV/AIDS captured by Pool from his inspirational book of the same name. An opening reception with Pool will be held on Wednesday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m., to benefit the Worlds AIDS Museum and Educational Center. Tickets for the benefit are $25 each and are available, online, at http://bit.ly/WAMThroughTheWhiteDoor.
“The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center is honored to present the only South Florida showing of Through the White Door, a truly moving exhibit that sheds light on an epidemic that claimed so many lives and started a movement for the inclusive care and treatment for HIV positive children in the world,” said Requel Lopes, executive director of the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center. “This exhibition has deep meaning as we look back to the origins of the AIDS epidemic and to where we are today; and how this, in some ways, mirrors the COVID experience.”
The Through the White Door photography project by Pool spans over two decades following a remarkable group of people who faced the HIV/AIDS crisis head-on and saved a generation of children. The project began with two newspaper stories at the Houston Chronicle in the 1990s with the rest of the work completed on his vacation time for the 20 years that followed — around his staff photographer positions at the Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News. Over the years he continued to follow one of the first children in the world on a drug trial for highly active antiretroviral therapy until adulthood, and documented the formation and rise of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) from the organization’s inception in Texas to what it is today – the largest provider of care and treatment for HIV positive children in the world.
The project culminated with an oversized hardcover book with 212 pages of his photography.
Text for the book was written by Jessica Johns Pool, his spouse, who is a writer specializing in health care. Together, TTWD is their way of sharing the stories of the extraordinary and inspirational people they have met along the way.
“Through the White Door is a story about some people who stared at unbelievable disparities in health care and decided to get up off the sidelines and do something about it. I got to take their pictures,” said Pool. “After over two decades following this story, here’s what I know: We can all make a difference. I thank the countless young people and their families who were brave enough to fight a potentially deadly virus and even braver to share their lives and dreams with me in the hopes that their stories can make a difference. I am pleased to share their inspirational narratives with South Florida.”
Smiley Pool has photographed his fair share of history. Some of those events will appear in the history books, but he’s always found the family scrapbook variety more rewarding. His favorite assignments are the police officers, cancer survivors, schoolchildren, AIDS patients, street preachers, and countless other people who welcome him into their lives and allow him to help tell their stories. Along the way he’s garnered his fair share of awards — most notably for contributing the aerial photography in The Dallas Morning News’ coverage of Hurricane Katrina that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. The Associated Press Managing Editors Texas chapter has named him Star Photojournalist of the Year six times. He has also won numerous POYi, Best of Photojournalism, and National Press Photographers Association awards. He’s covered thousands of high school, college, and pro football games; 10 Olympic games; at least a dozen hurricanes; and dozens of presidents, popes, kings, and queens. He even spent a year embedded with the crew of NASA’s final Space Shuttle mission.
He currently works as a staff photographer at The Dallas Morning News, and previously worked for the Houston Chronicle, the Colorado Springs Gazette, Austin American-Statesman, and St. Louis Suburban Journals (as a stringer in high school). When not on assignment, he volunteers at a summer camp for HIV+ youth with his wife Jessica Johns Pool and travels the world, sometimes just to see total eclipses.
Smiley Pool’s book Through the White Door with personalization and autographs will be available for purchase at the opening reception for $45. All proceeds will benefit World AIDS Museum and Educational Center.
In compliance with local and state health guidelines, guests attending the benefit opening reception at The Galleria, will be required to wear a mask and practice safe social distancing of six feet apart. The opening reception is limited to 100 guests.
The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center’s presentation of the Through the White Door exhibit is sponsored by The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale and supported by the Broward County Cultural Council.
For more information about the Through the White Door photo exhibit, please call (954) 390-0550 or visit www.worldaidsmuseum.org.
About World AIDS Museum and Educational Center
The World AIDS and Museum and Educational Center works to promote dialogue that eliminates HIV/AIDS stigma through education, artistic expression, and cultural programming. The organization was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 2011, and the Museum facility opened to the public in May 2014. We provide prevention and education services to over 5,000 people per year in public and charter schools, community-based social services, detention facilities, and colleges and universities. The Museum includes a permanent exhibit, “The Chronology of HIV/AIDS,” and rotating smaller exhibits highlighting different aspects of the HIV epidemic worldwide. Special programs, including art exhibitions, films, and community dialogues, are offered throughout the year. For more information call (954) 390-0550 or visit www.worldaidsmuseum.org.
About The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale is recognized as one of South Florida’s premier shopping destinations in Broward County. Macy’s, Dillard’s and H&M anchor the popular center, which also features stores including Altar’d State, Apple, Banana Republic, Free People, Michael Kors and Pandora. It is also home to Powerhouse Gym and a fine roster of dining establishments such as Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants and P.F. Chang’s. Just steps away from Fort Lauderdale’s world-famous beach, it is minutes from the airport, port, downtown, hotels and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center with easy access from Sunrise Boulevard, U.S. Highway 1 (Federal Highway), Interstate 95, Interstate 595, and U.S. Highway A1A (Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard). Located at 2414 East Sunrise Blvd., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.. Restaurants enjoy later hours. More information is available by calling (954) 564-1036 or visiting www.galleriamall-fl.com and facebook.com/GalleriaFtLauderdale.