MY WAR opens at SJIMA

Opening Festivities and Events


The much anticipated  MY WAR: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans exhibition at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art opened to VIPs and members on Thursday April 4, with an evening reception and introduction by photokunst principal Barbara Cox, followed by Peter DeLorenzi, Director of the Friday Harbor Veterans Museum. Earlier in the day classes from Friday Harbor High School toured the exhibition.

Extended community engagement in this exhibition was created by involving local Vietnam veterans and families, creating an adjoining small exhibition of photographs, artifacts and stories in the museum’s North Gallery, titled A WAR NEVER ENDS.

On Saturday April 6, Washington’s Congressman Rick Larsen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited the exhibitions, met with local veterans, and spoke about the challenges recent veterans are facing today.

Sunday April 7, the museum’s Art As A Voice lecture series presented: Journey Back to Vietnam by Sarah Blum. Blum who has worked with PTSD and trauma resolution with military veterans for the last 28 years, spoke about her experience as a frontline nurse in Vietnam, and PTSD survivor.

The museum has shared that the MY WAR exhibition is already proving to be a very successful community outreach to the baby boomer generation, historians, health professionals, veterans and their families and friends. It’s especially relevant that the included photos and writings came from the soldiers themselves, a “look from the inside out” wrote Marissa Roth, curator of MY WAR.

The exhibition has received great press to date, with five articles, and wide social media coverage, as well as 2 five-star Google reviews the first weekend.


“But this too is true: stories can save us.”
―Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, photokunst is honoring four photographers, all women who have passionately dedicated themselves to long-term projects addressing important far-reaching issues.

honoring 4 women photographers

Marissa Roth’s “One Person Crying: Women and War”, a 34 year journey of documentation, photographing and interviewing women survivors of thirteen wars and conflicts, reveals ways women have managed to overcome the immediate and lingering challenges of war for themselves and their families. Roth states, “the project brought me face to face with hundreds of women who endured and survived war and it’s ancillary experiences of loss, pain and unimaginable hardship.” Roth created a traveling exhibition of this work, and a book is in development.

Forty years of work on the African continent have carried Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher across 300,000 miles and through remote corners of 45 countries in exploration of more than 200 African cultural groups. In the process, this team of world-renowned photographers has produced fifteen widely acclaimed books and made four films about traditional Africa. They have been granted unprecedented access to African tribal rites and rituals and continue to be honored worldwide for their powerful photographs documenting the traditional ceremonies of cultures thousands of years old. As an intrepid team of explorers, they are committed to preserving sacred tribal ceremonies and African cultural traditions all too vulnerable to the trends of modernity. Their latest double volume book and traveling exhibition, “African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies, completes the journey begun in their epic “African Ceremonies”, covering rituals and ceremonies from some of the most inaccessible corners of the continent.

For more than 30 years, award-winning landscape photographer Dorothy Kerper Monnelly has been documenting one of the last unspoiled wilderness areas in the urban Northeast, a vast tidal wetlands known as the Great Marsh, and advocating for its protection and preservation. With patience and sensitivity, in panorama and closeup, Kerper Monnelly has crafted an exquisite portrait of an underappreciated world. Her large format black and white photographs chronicling years of seasons became two award-winning booksBetween Land and Sea: The Great Marsh (George Braziller Inc., 2006) and waterforms (Verlag Kettler, 2016), and have been widely exhibited, including in the Fragile Waters traveling exhibition.


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MY WAR: Remembering Vietnam on Veterans Day

MY WAR: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans

photographs by Vietnam veteransIn honor of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam during the war we present MY WAR, reflecting veterans’ experiences through their own perspectives.

MY WAR is an exhibition presenting a collection of personal photographs and poetry by Vietnam veterans, offering an all-but-unexplored viewpoint on that war and the men who fought it. Photographed during the war, the memories for these men are indelibly partnered with their collective experiences, and remain vivid decades later. MY WAR invokes both remembrance and dialogue.

Many of the photographs in this exhibition capture the in-between moments. In some cases, in between a friend’s life and death, in between bombing runs or ground offensives, in between here and there, on the road, in wakeful waiting, worrying and hoping, caught in the tedium of teamwork and down moments while ticking away time.
Four decades on, these veterans not only continue to pay dearly—emotionally, physically and psychologically— but the added wound of being welcomed home as social pariahs is a lifelong scar that still complicates memory.

These veterans chose to photograph subjects with enduring war themes: the terrain, the camaraderie, the weaponry, the fighting, moments of levity and visual poetry, moments of quiet and signs of life, and its ever-present invisible partner, death.

MY WAR Exhibition Information

“As long as my brothers-and-sisters-in-arms have to live beneath the long shadow cast across their lives by the war; as long as there are those who disrespect and condemn the participants in rather than the architects of that terrible, wasteful conflict; as long as there are those unlucky enough to be plagued with psychological and physical afflictions resultant from their participation in the war; as long as our government continues to see and to use armed conflict as the primary and inescapable response to international conflict; as long as each returned veteran fails to receive his due; as long as there remain scores, even hundreds whose fate remains unknown, be they MIA or KIA; I will feel compelled to keep the war from fading, from ending for myself either.”

—Steve Maddox, Captain, U.S. Army Infantry, Vietnam 1968/69



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International Women’s Day: Profile

Reflections on Her Career as a Photographer and Current Work


When I reflect on the arc of my career as a photographer, it is with a great amount of gratitude as it’s been a remarkable journey so far, and wholly unanticipated. While growing up in Los Angeles I never proclaimed that I wanted to be a photographer. I just felt it deeply inside, in my drive, in my activism, in my need for creative expression, and in my insatiable sense of wonder.

I came of age in America in the 1960’s and 70’s, where the backdrop of my youth was the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement, the assassinations of the Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King, the civil unrest and all of the rapid cultural and social changes. Photojournalism was my visual access point for current events as my parents subscribed to Life, Look and National Geographic magazines, and the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

In college, I became a staff photographer on the school newspaper, the U.C.L.A. Daily Bruin, and after graduation I naturally chose photojournalism for my profession, as I had been profoundly influenced by it, and it suited my character. It was immediate, physical, impactful and fun.

Los Angeles was a city of contradictions then, as it still is. On any given day working as a photographer for the Los Angeles Times, and later the New York Times, I would pivot from covering a gang shooting in South-Central L.A. to donning evening clothes and photographing a Hollywood star-studded movie gala. As I mastered my craft and travelled the world, I recognized deeper yearnings in myself that propelled me to tell global stories.

I certainly never expected to create a personal photographic project, One Person Crying: Women and War, which spans thirty-one years of my photography. But somehow I was gripped by the theme of how women around the world were impacted by war, which I felt was an underreported perspective on war, and wanted to tell their stories of courage and heartbreak over and over again through numerous subjects. I needed to understand how women from countries as diverse as Japan and Northern Ireland, Hungary and Vietnam, not only survived their war experiences, but thrived afterwards. It was only when I was about 20 years into the project that I recognized where the core impulse to undertake it came from – my own family’s tragic World War II history.

I often ask myself, where do these photographic projects come from? What informs and inspires us, and shapes and propels us almost to the point of obsession to be possessed by a subject and carry it through to completion. Do we choose these projects or do they choose us, mysteriously informed by who we fundamentally are, shaped by our personal histories and influences. And how do we recognize in a split second the amalgam of visual elements, intellectual interest, and intuitive recognition by responding with the potent need to capture it all through ours cameras.

I am a storyteller at heart, and now as a curator in addition to my photography, I am undertaking a new project to create a retrospective exhibition about the esteemed Australian photographer, Frank Hurley, who was aboard Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica in 1914. Hurley is known most notably for the monolithic images that he took while the ship was trapped in the ice, but in fact, his career took him around the world for decades. He visited the Antarctic six times between 1911 and 1932, and worked during World War I and World War II, serving as the official photographer with the Australian Imperial Forces during both wars. Hurley’s images of battlefields and death are equally as powerful as his Antarctica photographs, yet he is not well known for these. I believe that Frank Hurley’s life’s work deserves to be showcased in its entirety.

In addition to the research in all of the archives in Australia and England that retain Hurley’s photographs and original glass plates, negatives and transparencies, writings and ephemera, I will also put on my photographer’s hat by following in his footsteps, literally, photographing in a number of locales where he photographed; Antarctica, Australia, Papua New Guinea, selected battlefields in Belgium, including Ypres, and the Middle East.

I would like to understand from a purely sensory standpoint what Hurley saw and experienced in each of these locations in terms of the light and air, the sounds, colors and tones. I know that on the surface everything in each of these places will be contemporary, but it is within the overall environment as the setting that I am interested in seeing and feeling and potentially interpreting his experiences. I will photograph, as well, as a record, and the images will be incorporated in multi-media components in the exhibition. I am very pleased to say that Leica Mayfair is a sponsor on the project, and that I will bring the Q that they are loaning me for the duration of the project, to document these journeys.

In early January during a trip to London, I had the great honor of meeting with Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s granddaughter and the President of the James Caird Society. Sitting in the foyer of the Royal Geographical Society waiting for our ‘in-conversation’ meeting with Alasdair MacLeod, the Head of Enterprise and Resources, I saw a rare winter beam of sunlight reflecting on the wall and asked Alexandra if I could photograph her there. She said yes and stated, “Please take a picture of me smiling.” Of course, I obliged her, and made about 20 images with the Q before Alasdair came by to take us into a meeting room in the reading library. As we entered the small glass-walled room, I looked up and saw that it was named the Antarctica room.

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Happy Holidays!

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John Rowe: Ballet Nacional de Cuba

John Rowe, award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker, has been collaborating with the world-renowned ballet company Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Rowe was drawn to Cuba as the focus of his next project because he finds it socially compelling and visually stunning.  As part of Rowe’s close relationship to the Cuban visual and performing arts community, he has forged a connection with the principal dancers: Prima Ballerina Viegnsay Valdes, Mauricio Abreuone, one of her leading men, and Prima Ballerina Sadaise Arencibiaas. He has also photographed the behind the scenes practice sessions of the corps de ballet.

Rowe’s work was featured at the Gran Teatro de la Habana, coinciding with the 25th Festival Internacional de Ballet de la Habana – a world famous festival held every year in Havana celebrating the art of ballet. The exhibition, in 2016, focused on Prima Ballerina Viengsay Valdés dancing Swan Lake. A second exhibition is scheduled for October 2018, and will feature new images from the Cuban National Ballet “behind the scenes”.

Rowe’s lyrical imagery, on stage as well as behind the scenes, evokes memories of Degas’ ballerinas, un-posed, with a special eye towards the dramatic play of light and shadow. In addition, the formal performances, with their stunning stage designs and costumes, highlight Cuba’s exciting visual art scene and its unique multicultural background.

For a decade Rowe has explored Cuba with his camera creating his most recent project “CubaNow”. Rowe was one of the first American photographers to visit Cuba and to dig deeply into Cuba’s contemporary culture and it’s evolving relationship to outside influences. In 2016, Rowe captured historic coverage of President Obama’s visit, the Rolling Stones concert, and the memorials and commemorations following Fidel Castro’s death. He has developed a profound appreciation for the contemporary Cuban visual and performing arts community.

Rowe’s work has been published by National Geographic, NBC News, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, and The Explorers Journal among others. He is a guest lecturer and Honorary Professor for audio visual arts at ISA, the University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba.

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Honoring Ernest H. Brooks II – plus Special Offer

Photokunst congratulates Ernest H. Brooks II, photographer, innovator, educator, marine environmentalist, and philanthropist, on his induction into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum November 17, 2017.

Fellow inductees include Harry Benson, Edward Curtis, William Eggleston, Anne Geddes, Ryszard Horowitz, James Nachtwey, Cindy Sherman, Kenny Rogers, and Jerry Uelsmann. IPHF annually awards and inducts notable photographers or photography industry visionaries for their artistry, innovation, and significant contributions to the art and science of photography.

We are celebrating the event with a limited offer of a special collection and special pricing of Ernest Brooks’ photographs from the Fragile Waters museum exhibition. To honor Brooks, photokunst is donating a portion of the proceeds to The SeaDoc Society, to help protect the endangered Orca whales and marine life in the Salish Sea that surrounds us. Founded in 2000, the SeaDoc Society conducts and sponsors vital scientific research in the Salish Sea ecosystem, one of the most ecologically productive inland seas in the world, extending from Olympia, Washington to Campbell River, BC, and home to extraordinarily diverse fish and wildlife populations and more than 8 million people. They are non-profit program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, a center of excellence at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Ernest H.Brooks II special print offer

Inquire or call 360.378.1028.

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Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

On Indigenous Peoples Day photokunst celebrates its photographers, whose work highlights the diversity, richness and challenges of Indigenous Peoples around the world.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007, one decade ago: photographers John Rowe, Carol Beckwith /Angela Fisher, Marissa Roth, Phil Borges, Chris Rainier, Colin Finlay, Thomas Kelly, and T.J. Dixon & James Nelson collectively have spent well over two centuries documenting the cultures of Indigenous populations.

Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day started in the USA in 1977, as a result of a U.N. sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland. In every year since early October focuses attention on indigenous cultures and peoples. Beckwith and Fisher estimate that over 30% of the cultures they recorded no longer exist. All the artists here are in a race against time, documenting an ever-shrinking population of Indigenous Peoples domestically and internationally, a window to our collective past.

Hitiching A Ride, Suri Trime, Omo Valley, AfricanJohn Rowe’s Omo Valley book and photographs recorded the life and challenges of tribal people in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley caused by dramatic environmental changes in the region. Rowe also directed and produced the acclaimed full-length documentary film Omo Child: The River and the Bush which has won twenty-five festival awards, been featured on PBS, and has been instrumental in promoting a profound cultural shift in tribal customs in that area.

Barabaig Bride by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherCarol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have explored more than 150 African cultures, producing sixteen widely acclaimed books and four films about traditional Africa. They have been granted unprecedented access to African tribal rites and ceremonies. Aware that tribal life in Africa is fast disappearing, Beckwith and Fisher are working with an urgency to complete their “African survey” with a new traveling exhibition African Twilight and 2 volume African Twilight book to be released in the fall of 2018 by Rizzoli.

Pilgrim Climbing the Steps at the Potala Palace, Tibet by Marissa RothMarissa Roth’s Infinite Light: A Photographic Meditation on Tibet exhibition opened at the Phoenix Art Museum on September 23, 2017. It is Roth’s self-described love letter to Tibet, evoking a highly personal, poetic depiction of the artist’s travels in 2007 and 2010. Featuring scenes of nature, art, and Buddhist practice and devotion, the exhibition captures Roth’s impressions of Tibet. Roth’s collection of color photographs captures the subtle beauty and profound spirituality of this ancient culture.

Lucille, Windy-Boy by Phil BorgesPhil Borges has been documenting indigenous and tribal cultures, striving to create an understanding of the challenges they face. His award winning book Women Empowered, along with a traveling exhibition: Stirring the Fire: a global movement empowering women and girls, include Lucille Windy-Boy’s portrait.

Bedoin Woman Praying to the Pyramids, Giza by Chris rainierChris Rainier specializes in documenting indigenous cultures. His life’s mission is to aid the empowerment of Indigenous peoples, enhancing their cultures and lives, through photography as well as advocacy. He has published 3 books; Keepers of the Spirit, Where Masks Still Dance, and Ancient Marks with related traveling exhibition.

Darfur, South Sudan by Colin finlayColin Finlay has chronicled the human condition with compassion, empathy, dignity and with a focus on climate change and its affect on the indigenous population in his powerful traveling exhibition of consequence. The image above depicts the result of South Sudan’s changing climate, advancing desert and lessening rainfall, followed by conflict and starvation. Finlay has covered war and conflict, disappearing traditions, the environment, genocide, famine and global cultures.

Marigold Baba, Nepal byThomas KellyThomas Kelly is an internationally recognized photographer who has lived in Southeast Asia for nearly 30 years. He documents the struggles of marginalized peoples and cultures with a special emphasis on Asia. His book and traveling exhibition Sadhus – The Great Renouncers captured the ascetic Sadhu ritual practices (sadhanas), involving demanding yoga postures and colorful body imagery.

I am Carlos, 2013 by TJ Dixon and James NelsonT.J. Dixon & James Nelson’s traveling exhibition, De Las Sombras: Out of the Shadows, is the result of four years spent documenting the story of one Mexican indigenous immigrant family, their obstacles, fears, family ties and pursuit of the American dream.

“I am brown yes, but my dream…white as paper..” –Ricardo V.

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Marissa Roth – Close-up

Marissa Roth, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, documentary photographer and curator was born and raised in Los Angeles. Lauded internationally, Roth has been designated a Leica Ambassador, sponsored by Leica London and was recently appointed a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

Roth’s Infinite Light: A Photographic Meditation on Tibet, a traveling exhibition, is being featured at the Phoenix Art Museum from September 23 –February 18, 2018. This fine art photography installation, akin to a walking meditation, is a visual poem of her impressions of Tibet. A limited edition book by the same title, with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was released in 2014.

These images are evocative of the atmosphere she [Roth] found in Tibet, where a rich and ancient culture,
an unbowed people,
and a pristine natural environment struggle to survive.   H.H. the Dalai Lama


Ascending Pilgrims and Descending Monk


Roth’s current work includes several projects. First, as curator, she is in the early stages of researching a retrospective exhibition about Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer,  who was selected by Sir Ernest Shackleton to document the 1914 Endurance expedition to Antarctica. The exhibition will debut in 2020. Roth will deliver a lecture on Frank Hurley Frank Hurley; A Photographer’s Epic Vision at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Ca.

Understanding the importance of the still images taken with multiple photographic mediums – glass negatives, gelatin negatives, color transparencies – is critical. By showing the human scale and geographical sense of place, they have provided a collective visual account that uniquely showcases this expedition. Who was Frank Hurley as a man, and what inspired and informed him as a photographer? Where did he come from, and what can we, in our new modern age, learn from the work and life of this cutting edge, forward-looking thinker and 20th century photographic master?”

Second, as a photographer, Roth has been retained by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Center to take portraits of its regional Holocaust survivors to create the Center’s core exhibition. She originated a similar portrait project, Witness to Truth, of Holocaust survivors in Los Angeles, which was commissioned by The Museum of Tolerance/Simon Wiesenthal Center and is on permanent exhibition in the museum.


Monica Smith, One Person Crying collection


Third, with the focus of the nation on Ken Burns’ Vietnam series, it should be noted that Roth curated an exhibition last year along with a catalog, My War: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans, comprised of personal photographs poems, diary entries and letters by Vietnam veterans. Roth’s exhibition debuted at The Highground Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, WI, in 2016. 

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Jamey Stillings Exhibition in Pingyao China

Jamey Stillings was recently honored with a solo exhibition at the 2017 Pingyao International Photography Festival, one of China’s most influential festivals held annually in Pingyao, a UNESCO world heritage site in north central China. Stillings was in attendance for the opening festivities.

The theme of this year’s festival was “original inspiration; a brighter future”. Stillings’ exhibition’s thirty aerial photographs were drawn from several of his projects: The Bridge at Hoover Dam, The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar and Changing Perspectives, with works created in the USA, Japan and Uruguay.

The exhibition ran from September 19-26, 2017. Last year’s exhibition attendance was almost a quarter of a million people. Some 50 professional institutions, 60 colleges from China and abroad, and more than 2,000 photographers from some 30 countries and regions, including Russia, the United States and New Zealand, joined in China’s biggest photography event.

Jamey Stillings with photographers Marcus Lyon and A Yin

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