Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Snap Mothers Day Reception

The main photography exhibit for Snap was on the 5th floor of the GIA Building (618 East South Street.) I parked in Thornton Park and walked to the building. The exhibit took up the entirety of the 5th floor which was still under construction. Overhead, air ducts and beams were exposed. The walls had exposed insulation and raw metal studs. It was a wide open industrial loft. Surreal fanciful photos were everywhere. One large area was separated from the rest with a long black curtain. I stepped inside the ominous space. Large three foot high black and white photos shot by Barry Kirsch hung from the ceiling one after the other in two rows. Every photo was of a murder scene with one element, a gold watch, appearing in each shot. Most of the shots felt staged but as a whole the effect was disturbing and desensitizing.

After seeing everything I decided to focus by sketching the Dan Eldon exhibit. Mothers slowly began to arrive, and it was heart warming to watch them share the art with their children. This was an opportunity to spend quality time away from the distractions of TV and video games. They could share wild creative thoughts with abandon. Dan Eldon's mom, Kathy, came to the exhibit and she offered a guided tour of her son's photo journals.Dan was born in 1970 in England. When he was seven years old the family moved to Nairobi Kenya. This began his lifelong infatuation with Africa. His mom was a journalist and he accompanied her on interviews. His father worked with local community leaders. From his parents he learned how to transfer ideas into positive life affirming actions. A creative activist is someone who uses thought or imagination to catalyze positive change in our world.

He returned to Africa when he was 22 and photographed the horrible effects of famine in Somalia. His images helped spearhead a large international relief effort. He used his art to affect a positive change. Throughout his life he kept journals in which he would create expressive collages. The exhibit consisted of large screens on which large prints were made of pages from his journals. These pages offered a personal glimpse into his adventurous life. I jotted down a few of the quotes from his pages, "The most important part of vehicle maintenance is clean windows, so if you are stranded you will enjoy the view." "Death is just a horizon and the horizon is only the extent of your view."

On July 12, 1997 Dan Eldon was stoned and beaten to death while covering the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was just 22 years old. His mother, though devastated, had to find a positive way to deal with her grief. She formed an organization called Creative Visions and published Dan's journals in a book called, "The Journey is the Destination." She is intent to share his creative vision with the world. This mothers Day I got to meet an extraordinary mom. A mother's love is eternal.

2 comments:

cris said...

This is a great post. I still cringe and wince everyone I think of the way Dan died even tho I know the story well by now. How scared he must have been. That thought alone is enough to sear a mother's brain ... and yet Kathy remains one of the most luminous and warm women I have ever met!

Having her with us at Snap! this year was a true gift.

Barry's exhibit- while darker - is also a brave effort at making people think about violence and the value of life.

Thor said...

I agree that Kathy was a warm, generous and inspiring person to meet. She had an infectious enthusiasm. How wonderful that art could be used to overcome tragedy.

The moms sharing the exhibit with their children also hit me in a way I didn't expect. Snap really delivered!