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South Africa as shown through a camera lens

February 19, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - Photographer Iris Dawn Parker has captured a glimpse into the lives of blacks living in modern-day South Africa with her "Portraits of South Africa" photo series.

The collection of more than 20 large color photographs will be on display at Hodson Gallery in Hood College's Tatem Arts Center through Sunday, Feb. 29. The gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"It's an incredible look into who these people are and the struggles in their daily lives," said potter Joyce Michaud, curator of Hodson Gallery. The exhibition is one way Hood is celebrating Black History Month, said Michaud, who invited Parker to apply for a gallery showing after seeing her work at an artists' workshop near Pittsburgh.

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Parker's photos depict mothers carrying children on their backs, vendors peddling fruits in an open-air market, barefoot children playing on a dusty street, teenage boys staring into the camera from atop a grafitti-covered wall, and the sun- and age-wrinkled faces of women looking intently into the lens.

Vibrant backdrops and adornments draw attention to the dark-skinned subjects in portraits that convey a sense of innocence, poverty and resolve.

Parker, of Pittsburgh, has traveled the world taking photographs, showing her work, and teaching photography workshops since earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Edinboro University in 1991 and her Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University in 1993.

A full-time teacher of world cultures and visual arts at St. Edmund's Academy in Pittsburgh, Parker has enjoyed extended stays in Costa Rica and Africa. A 1997 grant enabled the artist to work with Kikuya women farmers in Kenya, and a 1998 residency at Fordsburg Artists' Studio in Johannesburg, South Africa, gave Parker the opportunity to teach photographic workshops to the young people of Tembisa.

Framed prints from the "Portraits of South Africa" series are on sale for between $150 and $200 at Hodson Gallery. Unframed prints cost $100 and $125.

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