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Gioia Reading, 2011.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

After spending the better part of December on the road, I have been feverishly working these last couple of days to get my annual holiday prints out the door.

This year’s photograph I took last Spring of my 5 year old daughter, Gioia, reading in our garage in Connecticut. I saw that she had plopped herself down to read a book in the warmth of the sun with her water bottle next to her. Remnants of her babyhood—her former crib and baby car seat—lie around in the background. Gioia has learned to read before our eyes, and to begin to devour the world through all things legible: books, signs, recipes, cereal boxes, advertisements and poems.

At about the same time that I took the photograph of Gioia, I was finishing teaching my class at the International Center of Photography. One of my students, Amira Al-Sharif, a photojournalist from Yemen, inspired me with her story of coming to the US to study photography on a Kickstarter grant and her continued success, which is evident in an interview with her on NPR. Amira told me of the struggles that she and other women faced growing up and living in Yemen, especially in rural areas. However, in spite of her hardships, Amira adamantly embraced tradition and spoke lovingly of her family and her country.  Amira grew up in Sana’a, the capital, and with the support of her father she had access to an education that many women throughout Yemen do not have. Given this opportunity, she has dedicated her photography “to work for a better life for the girls of Yemen.”

Najat Reading, 2009. Photograph by Amira Al-Sharif.

This photograph by Amira shows 18-year-old Najat Al-Suraihi learning to read in her father’s kitchen. She married when she was 12 and was subsequently beaten and abused by her husband who left her and took their only child, a 2 year old girl, with him. She now lives with her father and, as Amira puts it, “has two dreams: to be divorced and to be a nurse.”

As Gioia sat reading in the garage that day, in lands far away from rural Connecticut waves of protests were changing the Arab world dramatically and, closer to home, we have seen Occupy protests continue into the winter. It is increasingly clear in the news that knowledge is power and transparency is the expectation of the people.  I am inspired and hopeful that true change in the world can happen without the need of a massive war machine.  This holiday season my wish is that the simplest of activities—a girl reading a book—can bring us closer to realizing world peace.

Finally, I am asking that you consider making a donation this year, as I have, to one of the organizations below that empowers women and girls around the world through literacy and education.

Global Fund for Women

World Education

CARE

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My intrepid 2011 Large Format Portraiture and Street Photography class at ICP.

My beloved large format ICP class ended last Friday with a bittersweet farewell party complete with a traditional home-cooked Yemen meal. I wish my students the best of luck and look forward to seeing their continued success in any format they choose.  This year was one of my most remarkable with students from Yemen, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Buenos Aires and, of course, the US. (You can see last year’s class portrait here.)

Next up, Large Format Narrative Portraiture, taught in a 5 day workshop at Maine Media Workshops slated for June 12-18.

 

Buffalo Ranch, Oklahoma, 2007. Photograph by Becky Holladay.

 

After New York City has been pummeled of late by nature outside, 25CPW is opening it’s Nature Within exhibit tonight which features 18 full time ICP graduates.  The exhibit, curated by Minny Lee who’s work is also in the show, explores the natural world through eyes that are more often focused on the human world.  From the gallery’s website:

Many of the photographs in the exhibit do not have an overt human presence in the subject matter but only trace elements. Some photographs were taken in a familiar city street or local park while others were taken in places as far away as Bolivia, Kosovo and South Korea. Whether we stay locally or abroad, nature is omnipresent and we live within it and thanks to it.

 

Fishing Vessel, Wonsando. South Korea 2008. Photograph by Tom White.

 

 

false awakening from the series mid-water, 2010. Photograph by Sheila Griffin.

 

 

as above 11-17-07-n°0559, 2007. Photograph by Christian Erroi.

 

 

camera design, 2010. Photograph by Liz Sales.

 

 

Untitled from the series Riding the Dog, 2009. Photograph by Brendon Stuart.

 

 

Rio Tinto, 2008. Photograph by Victoria Amián Azcoitia.

 

If you have never been to 25CPW, it’s a former grocery store space turned into not-for-profit art gallery, event space (and now rental studio!).  Join their mailing list here for upcoming events.

25CPW, 25 Central Park West (at 62nd st), Opening Reception: October 15, 6-9pm, Meet the Artists: October 17, 2-5pm

International Center of Photography, Friday Night.

International Center of Photography, Friday Night.

I attended the opening Of Bodies and Other Things the exhibit of ICP full time students on Friday night.  Sadly I got there only as they were blinking the lights for everyone to leave.  But there was a lot of amazing work there (even in the dark).  I will be heading back to give you a better report.

All images and content unless otherwise noted © Greg Miller

Congratulations to all the 2009-2010 full-time students at International Center for Photography for finishing the grueling certificate program there.  Their work will be featured in the year end exhibit, Of Bodies And Other Things, opening tonight running through August 15th.  More about my talented students to come… in the meantime, here are class portraits of my two classes this year:

International Center of Photography, Central Park, 2010.

International Center of Photography, 43rd St. & 6th Ave, 2010.

I am moved to make class portraits every year influenced by my own beloved teacher and mentor Lois Conner.  Below are portraits she made of my class in 1986 with her 7″x17″ camera at School of Visual Arts where I went for undergrad.  I was 20 years old.

School of Visual Arts, Photograph by Lois Conner

School of Visual Arts. Photograph by Lois Conner.

School of Visual Arts. Photograph by Lois Conner.

All images and content unless otherwise noted © Greg Miller