Photography Exhibition to Benefit Landmine Victims

Images by Northampton photographer Stephen Petegorsky raise awareness about people who have lost limbs in Central America. Neilson Library, 3rd floor.

Margarito Rodriguez, landmine victim.
Photograph by Stephen Petegorsky.

 

“Step by Step: Photographs from Walking Unidos,” sponsored by the Smith Landmine Survivors Aid Organization and the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development is on view from February 5 through March 23, 2008.

Date Event
Feb.5- Mar.23 Exhibition: "Step by Step: Photographs from Walking Unidos" by Stephen Petegorsky
Book Arts Gallery, 3rd floor, Neilson - hours
Feb.16
3 pm
Presentation & Opening Reception
Neilson Library Browsing Room

The presentation on Saturday, February 16 at 3 pm will be on the subject of landmines with several speakers who will introduce the exhibition and relate their experiences in Nicaragua and Honduras. The talks will be followed by a reception in the Book Arts Gallery. All donations made through the event will benefit landmine victims in coffee-growing communities.

Smith College student Aubrey Menard formed the Smith Landmine Survivors Aid Organization, which is seeking to benefit the Coffeelands Trust this year. In January she traveled to Nicaragua to work at the Walking Unidos Clinic.

The Polus Center has worked in Central America for 10 years, bringing social and economic opportunities to people with disabilities. Stephen Petegorsky has been a volunteer with the Center since 1998, and his photographs documenting the group’s work have been used to inform, educate, and raise funds. As a result of the group’s efforts, the Walking Unidos Clinic opened in León, Nicaragua, in 1999. Since that time, another clinic has opened in Choluteca, Honduras, and in Managua, Nicaragua. Other projects are ongoing.

Petegorsky says: “When I first went to Nicaragua, I had no plans to make art. I was going to document the work of a group of people who seemed dedicated to helping others. Though I had traveled extensively before, this trip changed my life. It was very moving to see so many people with devastating injuries in a country that had recently seen a revolution and civil war – a country that was both beautiful and extremely poor. After a few more trips I had a large pile of images that I liked for myself as an artist, not just for the possibility that they could help the Polus Center’s projects. I find myself wanting to go back as often as I can.”

Two years ago the Polus Center and Dean’s Beans Fair Trade Coffee observed that many of the countries in which coffee was grown were also those that had the most landmines in the ground. The mines were affecting large numbers of agricultural workers, especially those harvesting coffee. Dean’s Beans and the Polus Center partnered to form the Coffeelands Landmine Victims’ Trust, a fund that raises money to assist those in coffee communities whose lives have been affected by landmines.

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