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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

Photos Reach Out from Uganda to Milwaukee

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Suzanne Garr's photography exhibition "Okumpi Awo ... Emikono Mingi," ("Within Reach, Many Hands") at Mount Mary College's Marian Gallery through Nov. 26 presents impressions from her work with the Change the Truth Foundation. It features 30 prints shot at an orphanage in Kajjansi, Uganda, where the foundation cares for children orphaned by civil violence, war or HIV/AIDS.

Garr often held the hands of these youth aged three to 17 during her two weeks in Uganda. Her elegant black and white formatted photos framed in pristine white mats elevate each image with dignity, leaving few traces of sentimentality. Intended to dispel common misconceptions of Third World children, Garr's uncommon viewpoints include bare feet surrounded by a jump rope, faces seen through fence grids and a mound of plantains that will be peeled for Christmas dinner next to a huge, round bowl. In one of the children's drawings also included in the exhibit, a 13-year-old girl named Issy expertly rendered a slim African woman carrying a baby in a sling and a water jar atop her head. The portrait immediately draws the viewer's eye to the woman in appreciation.


Mixed media accompanies Garr's photographs
¾letters, banana husk dolls and student profiles¾further enhancing the narratives begun in her photographs.

A timely photograph titled A Christmas Toy
depicts two carved sticks bound together by leather to form a "T," with two primitive wheels attached and thin legs following behind. Garr invites Milwaukee to encourage the hand that grasps the humble toy in play, a task the child can now enjoy because of Change the Truth and Garr's creative commitments. 
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