Friday, July 30, 2010

Arts Without Borders returns from across the border

I've been absent from the blogosphere for nearly 3 weeks because I've literally been across the border - a long way across, in Nicaragua. Even after a week back in the US it's hard to readjust to "normal life." I'm writing a longer piece about this but it's taking a while, so I thought I'd simply post this note with a couple of teaser images from my trip.

I go to Nicaragua every other summer with a group from Unitarian Universalist Church West, where I'm a member, to build houses under the auspices of a non-profit called Bridges to Community. I've written much more about these experiences on my website. This summer marks my sixth "brigade." Although I've always taken pictures, each time I go I find myself easing a little further out of the role of construction worker and into the welcome role of photographer. As I was still nursing an injury from shortly before this trip the role was more guilt free than usual.

The image above shows Antonia kissing her son Axel. It could be anywhere and is blatantly sentimental. But it isn't anywhere, which is the point. Antonia is the new owner of one of the two houses that our brigade built in four days in collaboration with a professional crew of masons provided by Bridges and with other members of the local community. Antonia herself worked very hard, mixing concrete, lifting heavy blocks, and everything we needed to do.

The image below is more symbolic of the relationship between brigadistas from the US and the local community. Jackson, on the left in this image, is the proud owner of this second house under construction. He is pictured with Dana, from Milwaukee. They are working together and, as in every brigade I've been on, have created a bond that transcends language, culture, and geography. We see this through the narrow grid of construction material, the metaphorical frame that unites them - and partially obscures what they are about. It is my hope to bring their effort into view with my photography.

To see more images from the brigade, go to my flickr page.

To learn more about the Nicaraguan experience, go to my website.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Eddee, Your photos are amazing and wonderful. At first glance, I thought Antonia was little Axel's not much older sister. Your work is very important particularly the work you do behind the lens of your camera. Please do not feel guilty. How else would we be introduced to these beautiful people? Thanks for sharing.