I recently visited SMILE! A Photo Anthology by VII on behalf of GBlog. After traveling through a couple of under-construction corridors, I found the exhibit underneath Winter Garden’s palm trees. There, VII’s display contended that the smile is considered a low-brow taboo in the world of art photography, and that, through collecting photojournalistic shots, they hope to challenge this view.

SMILE! represents people from around the world and of various ages, cultures, and classes. While the collection does not and cannot reflect every group, it strives to offer a universal look at the smile. The collection represents many people, including author John Updike, Pope Benedict III, Cairo-based journalist Nora Younis, and the late Nelson Mandela. Interestingly, the various portraits show a range of emotion that one wouldn’t necessarily associate with the smile. The people in these pictures alternately grin for the camera and for themselves, as a performance or in an almost private moment, as part of a ritual or an incident, with weariness, pride, and humor behind theirs masks.

A thought-provoking and family-friendly exhibit, SMILE! offers a low-key break for Lower Manhattan shoppers and Tribeca Film Festival attendees alike. While I wouldn’t say that the courtyard exhibit changes the state of the smile in artistic circles, it certainly offers casual onlookers a glimpse into the world of people whose smiles they might not otherwise see. The Arts Brookfield exhibit is open until May 1, 2014.