"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Friday, May 31, 2013

great big fun at gordon biersch

The Change the Truth fundraiser was a huge success! It was gray and rainy all day, but the clouds parted just in time for the fun. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

review of my show

Today the KC Star published this review of my show "Can You See Me Now?" which is on view at the Bohemian Gallery through June 15th. Hope you'll have a chance to see the exhibit, if you haven't already. Catalogues are still available for a suggested donation of $10.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Please indulge me while I talk about my son.

Max made a commitment to helping others when he moved into a Boston soup kitchen nearly two years ago. He also made a commitment to getting into medical school.

The latter meant enrolling (post baccalaureate) in hard science classes and doing well in them.  This meant studying really, really hard for the first time in his life.

This also meant putting in lots of hours volunteering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It meant finding doctors to shadow. It meant getting an internship with a medically related organization. It meant giving up partying for books. It meant driving himself harder than he’d ever done before. Then, it meant preparing for the MCATs, which he chose to do on his own. This meant studying eight hours a day five days a week for four months. This meant focusing purely on expanding his depth and breadth of knowledge. This meant looking deep inside himself to figure out if he was cut out for this kind of discipline. This meant coming to understand what was driving him and why. This meant searching every corner of his head and his heart. This meant looking at himself more squarely in the eye than ever before. This meant getting to know himself in a way he had never before experienced.

Max took the MCAT a month ago and was devastated afterward. He could not believe the difference between the actual test and all the practice tests he had taken during his rigid study regimen. It was much harder, and he said he had been tempted to delete the test in the end and try again in a few months. It was painful to hear him say he had done poorly. He had worked so hard.

It would be 30 days before he got his results, but he began to mentally prepare himself for the worst.

He got a tweet this afternoon announcing that his score was in. He went to a park near the soup kitchen and curled up in a quiet grassy corner to take a look.

And then he picked up his phone to call his parents. Through tears of joy and relief, he told us how he fared.

His hard work paid off. Max did it! He got a score that was even better than the one he had only dared to dream of.

I am so proud of this kid. He’s not been accepted to any medical school yet, and he still faces a lengthy and trying process to get in and then complete his medical training. But I could hear in his voice today that he’s now a physician in the making. 

What an inspiration he is to me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

a bird and a bean

Today I gave a tour of my show to a group of Nelson-Atkins Museum docents. They were very engaged and interested, and they asked great questions. The give and take of our dialogue made me think about some things in new ways. What a valuable experience it was for me.

We talked about the fact that everyone is a photographer now - and how different that is from when I first got started in the medium. They wondered if I am aware of making a conscious decision to try to make photographs that might possibly rise above the thousands of other pictures that are made of similar subjects on a daily basis.

I do think about this. I thought about it as recently as this past weekend when I was in Chicago. I was taking pictures of something that was being simultanesouly photographed by hundreds of other tourists. My guess is there were tens of thousands of pictures taken at this very site over the long holiday weekend.

So I stood there trying to make one that might be more interesting than most of the others - those that no doubt spilled out onto Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook today.

I suggested to the docents that perhaps the fact that everyone has a camera now has made us commercial and fine art shooters work a lot harder than we used to.

And, actually, I think that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

save the date for "about face"



August 9, 2013-January 19, 2014
Location: Bloch Building, Gallery L11
Admission is free
"This exhibition will explore the breadth and global diversity of contemporary photographic portraiture since 2000, highlighting recent acquisitions to the museum's permanent collection.
About Face will include works by twenty-nine artists from the United States, England, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Iran and South Africa. Though each of these photographers approaches portrait-making differently, certain thematic threads resonate throughout the show, including questions of racial, cultural, ethnic, class and gender identity; the relationship between individuals and typologies; the way photographic processes themselves inform meaning; the relevance of historical precedents to contemporary practice; and the impact of media stereotypes on self-presentation. Considered collectively, the works in About Face offer a provocative and engaging forum for considering the question: how do we define portraiture today?
For this exhibition, co-curators Jane L. Aspinwall and April M. Watson at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are partnering with FlakPhoto.com creator Andy Adams to create a collaborative exhibition project focusing on contemporary portraiture.
The project will present two distinct, simultaneous exhibitions: About Face, our in-gallery exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins, and 'Making Pictures of People,' a digital exhibition presented online for web-based audiences worldwide. Visitors will be able to access the Flak Photo exhibition via touch screens in the gallery and on mobile devices outside the museum.
The goal of our collaboration is twofold: to celebrate the complementary experiences of engaging with photographs as objects and as images, and to connect museum visitors in Kansas City with an international community deeply engaged in thinking about portraiture and contemporary photographic practice."
Pieter Hugo, South African (b. 1976). Annebelle Schreuders (1), 2012. Inkjet print. 
I am very pleased to share that one of my pictures from Uganda, "Two Girls in Sunday Dresses" will be included in this exhibition!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

sponsored student: tonny

Tonny in his new school shirt, 2013

Ssentamu Tonny stole my heart the first year I met him. That was back in 2006. Both my son, Max and my husband, Eddie were also quite taken with Tonny when they were team members in 2008 and 2009 respectively. We've all now got a soft spot in our hearts for this young man. I told Tonny a couple years ago that if he made the grades and met all the other stipulations for a CTT scholarship, that my family and I would like to sponsor him in secondary school. Tonny did do very well and qualified for a sponsorship with flying colors. It just so happened that Tonny's long-term pen pal, James - and his family (who hail from Chicago) - also wanted to help with Tonny's school fees. So, our two families came together and are now happily sharing the financial obligations for Tonny's education.

Tonny and me, 2008

Max and Tonny, 2008

Eddie and Tonny, 2009

Tonny holding James' school picture. James included it in one of his letters. 2009

Tonny is currently a Senior 1 day student at Turkish Light Academy. He has called St. Mary Kevin Orphanage home since Primary 1.  Both of Tonny’s parents are deceased, and he has lost contact with all other members of his family (including a younger brother). Mama Rosemary is now his guardian, and his peers at SMK have become his brothers and sisters. During his Primary school years, Tonny enjoyed performing with the choir and dancing up quite a storm with the traditional dance troop.  Unfortunately, discomfort in his hips this past year has put a halt to dancing. Tonny has discovered a new way to express his passion for music, though. He is an active, dedicated member of the mighty St. Mary Kevin Marching Band, playing both trombone and alto saxophone (he began with the trumpet).  Tonny’s favorite subjects in school are Biology and Chemistry. In the future, Tonny hopes to become a doctor (specifically a surgeon), as well as an instructor of music.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

sponsored student: claire faith

Team 4 member Emily (a high school student at the time) fell head over heels for young Claire Faith. The two girls began corresponding, and when it was time for Claire Faith to go to Secondary School, Emily and her family stepped up to the plate to provide assistance. This family works hard for every dollar it contributes toward Claire Faith’s education, but they are committed to standing by this little dynamo for the duration of her education. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Claire Faith knows what it is like to fall in love.

Emily and Claire Faith, 2010

Emily wrote the following about her little "sister":

"Claire Faith, a P6 student was quiet, yet sassy in her quick eye rolls and hidden smiles. The very first day, she took on the role as my photographer and guide, documenting her classmates in their most natural and posed positions and leading me by hand around the SMK grounds. With quiet moments and many jokes throughout the week, Claire Faith and I became inseparable.

But the moment I realized we would be bound together for much longer than the trip was one day after we had returned from the lake and Claire Faith was trying to fix my broken camera. She worked so hard even after I had given up and told her it was okay. She finally surrendered and asked for my phone so she could play ‘Bug Crusher’ some more. Lying on her stomach on my bed with her petite feet swinging in the air, she beat my high score and simply looked up at me with her sly grin, saying, ‘You have a lot to learn from me’. She had no idea how right she was.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

sponsored student: male anthony

Male Anthony is currently a Senior 3 Secondary student at Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School.  Male arrived at SMK in Primary 5, as he was recruited to play football (soccer) for the school team.  Male’s single mother works in a small produce market, and he has no siblings.  Male has a great passion for football and finds time during school holidays to play for an organized team.  Male wants to be a doctor when he grows up. His favorite classes in Secondary school are Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Geography.

Male is sponsored by his "Mommy Robin" from New Jersey. As you can tell from her words below, she definitely considers him "Son Male"!

Robin and Male

"I first met Male almost four years ago on my first visit to Uganda with a non-profit organization. We visited SMK orphanage and spent the days with the kids there. I spotted Male and his contagious but shy smile, and we met. We arm wrestled and danced together, and then I left. Upon leaving the country I couldn't stop thinking of him and his beautiful face. I had the organization search for him through pictures, as I didn't know his full name. I found him and said I wanted to sponsor him and see him through University if possible. I made myself a promise to be a part of his life, and I have returned every six months since our first meeting to visit. Male has met two of my children and has traveled with me on safari to Murchison Falls. We’ve gone shopping and to lunch and to the zoo. 

Two years ago I started an organization to empower young women in Uganda, and Male comes to visit our centers often. I have met Male's mother and also his soccer coach and hope to watch him play during my next visit in June. 

He is very much a part of my family, and I love him dearly!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

sponsored student: brian

Okecha Brian is currently a Senior 3 Secondary student at Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School.  Brian arrived at St. Mary Kevin in Primary 5, along with his four brothers (two older and two younger).  His mother died of cancer in 2004, and his father works as a security guard in Kampala.  Brian comes from a family of extremely talented artists.  He enjoys painting and drawing, as well as learning more about computers.  Brian plays the trumpet and is an active member of the SMK Marching Band.  This gracious, talented, smart, sweet young man aspires to become a professional artist. If you've ever attended one of CTT's annual fundraisers, you've no doubt enjoyed his fabulous artwork.

Brian's sponsors are a family of four caring people who live in Michigan. Jessie, the mom, contacted me a couple years ago asking for a student to sponsor. She and Otto are the parents to two boys; now they have a third to call "son." Brian writes them wonderful letters and always thinks to include a drawing or two. He could not be more appreciative of their belief in him and his education.

Bridges from one corner of the world to another are being built through these sponsorships. The connection between Brian and his two American "brothers" mean more than any of us can imagine.

[Thanks, Suzanne Garr, for these 2012 portraits of our sponsored students!]

Monday, May 20, 2013

sponsored student: sheila

Kirungi Sheila is 17 years old and is in Senior 5. Both of her parents died from illnesses when she was young. She is a lovely young woman who enjoys singing and being with her friends. Sheila works hard in school and hopes to one day become a doctor, specifically a cardiologist. She wants to help others with heart problems, because she wishes someone could have helped her own mother when she died of a heart attack.

A few years ago CTT held a fundraiser in New York. An old college pal of mine showed up with his friend, Judy. It wasn't long before Judy asked if she could help; she thought she might really enjoy sponsoring a student. I matched her up with Sheila. They are both thoughtful, smart, hard working women who value family and education. It has proven to be a magical connection! Judy and Sheila adore one another and share so much about themselves in the letters they exchange. They've never met, but they both hope someday that will happen.