more detail on exhibit and artist statement:complete intro to exhibit and artist statement:
FACES OF COURAGE: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge
By Mark Tuschman
For the past decade I have been on a mission: to document the lack of autonomy that millions of women in developing countries have over their own lives and bodies, and the efforts being made to empower them. The photographs in this exhibit are part of a prospective book titled Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge
The intent of this book is simple – to pay tribute to the women I’ve met and to the millions of other women who share their fate. Through my art, I want to bring these women and their stories to the forefront of world consciousness. I want people to see their faces, feel their pain, and understand both their powerlessness and their magnificent, unshakeable dignity. I’d also like to pay tribute to the people and organizations that are working heroically to bring positive advances in healthcare, education, and personal empowerment to women and girls. This book is my way of honoring them and also speaking out on their behalf.
In my travels around the world, not all the scenes I’ve witnessed are bleak. I’ve also walked into classrooms in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where girls are learning and filled with joy. Even when bent over in concentration, their enthusiasm comes shining through. In those classrooms, I could watch these young women and easily feel their growing sense of empowerment. That simple fact gives me great hope. And there’s more: In villages and towns across the developing world, I found doctors, nurses, teachers, aid workers, and NGO officers – all working to support millions of women in danger and to bring them vital medicine, counseling, and support. More than that, they also bring these women an essential measure of hope and encouragement. Over and over I was humbled, even awed, by the noble work these aid workers do. In my eyes, these workers are humanity at its very best.
This work has taught me a profound lesson: The human condition is wrought with great uncertainty and suffering, yet the human spirit and the hope for a better life can withstand terrible hardships and even grow stronger in the face of adversity. The women I have photographed have constantly inspired me, and I’ve come to understand that their cause is our cause; their humanity is our humanity.
As I have grown older, I have become more motivated to use my photography to communicate in a more socially conscious way - in a way that exposes people to both the degree of human suffering that exists in today’s world and to the courage and fortitude that people manifest to overcome it. In my travels I can easily imagine that I could have been born into completely different circumstances and my worldview would have been radically different, having been influenced by a completely radically dissimilar environment and culture. Indeed, I know I have been privileged and fortunate to have been born into an affluent culture with tremendous opportunities. I believe that it is especially important for people in our society to understand other cultures and the enormous difficulties that people in other countries face daily in order to simply survive. The human condition is wrought with great uncertainty and suffering, and yet the human spirit and the hope for a better life can grow stronger in the face of adversity. I am constantly inspired by the profound fortitude of people living in difficult conditions and the empathy and commitment of the many who give counsel and aid to those less fortunate.
I believe it as my moral obligation to use whatever talents I have as a photographer to transcend our limited worldviews and to help bridge the gap between cultures of affluence and poverty. Photography is a universal language and it is my hope that my images will move viewers to respond not only with empathy, but also with action. It is my intention to photograph people with compassion and dignity in the hope of communicating our interrelatedness. In the words of Sebastiao Salgado whose work I greatly admire, “If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.”
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Planned Parenthood Global
Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
650 867 6364
Photographer: Mark Tuschman
Grand Prize Winner
Exhibit Title: Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge
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