Opening Reception: February 23, 2018
Closing Reception: March 23, 2018
Show Closing: April 13, 2018
About the Show
In their exhibition "Holding on to Tradition: A View of Changing Cultures," photographer Barbara Michael and painter/photographer Evin Leek explore cultural changes in pre-war Yemen and post-war Guatemala. Through paintings, photographs, and displays of traditional clothing, these artists offer a view into the daily lives of two unique cultures. Although they are geographically distanced, both communities share a common desire to preserve fading traditions. This exhibition tells the stories of survivors, and gives insight into the challenges they face on the brink and in the aftermath of tragedy.
About the Artists
Barbara Michael is a Cultural Anthropologist who teaches at UNCW. After working with a filmmaker to make a video about my research in the Sudan with Hawazma Baqqara pastoral nomads (Nomads on the Savanna), I came to North Carolina to earn a Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. Her research focuses on the Middle East, primarily the Sudan and Yemen. Her first camera, bought when she was in elementary school, cost fifty cents and a Wheaties boxtop. As an anthropologist, a camera is an essential part of her equipment – as important as her notebooks and tape recorder. It camera allows her to visually document the cultures she studies and bring more of what she has seen and learned home. As a student, she was drawn to anthropology through visual images. As a teacher of anthropology, she has observed the power of images to foster understanding of other cultures. In her photographic work, she tries to capture glimpses of other cultures, nuances that cannot be told in words, and to portray our common humanity. Many of her photographs are of ways of life that are rapidly changing and even disappearing. And so, they also preserve knowledge of other people and places. They depict not only the people she has encountered, but also their lives and the mundane details that are our common reality.
Evin Leek drew inspiration for her series of oil paintings from volunteering with the elderly in the village of Santiago, Guatemala. The women in her paintings are widows and survivors of the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), during which millions of people were killed. Their village has been plagued by mudslides, which have caused widespread destruction and killed, injured and displaced thousands. Many of the members of this community endure extreme poverty, lack of healthcare, and unstable living conditions. This tight-knit community strives to preserve cultural traditions, which play a strong role in their daily lives. Evin tells their stories in hopes of raising awareness and to celebrate their vibrant culture. Part of the proceeds from Evin’s paintings and prints will go toward food, medicine and healthcare for the elders of Santiago.