Photojournalist and storyteller Jim Harney proved Thursday a picture is worth far more than a thousand words.
Harney presented a slide show on his 2001 trip to Colombia between 7 and 9 p.m. in Anspach 161 as part of the Green Party’s Globalization Week.
“The goal of the week is to open up a dialogue on campus and in the community about some of the major issues,” said Clare senior Louis Blouin, Mount Pleasant Student Greens president.
The group wanted to bring in speakers with firsthand experience fighting for the causes of the awareness of globalization, he said. For this, Blouin said he wanted something other than a faculty discussion panel.
“They don’t have the same sort of perspective that people that have participated in the movement have,” Blouin said. “We wanted to choose someone who wouldn’t be a traditional educator.”
More needs to be done to educate people about the oppression going on throughout the world. Harney and his art seemed like a good choice, Blouin said.
“He was definitely chosen for his skill, but also for the very medium he works in. We underestimate the power of art,” Blouin said.
Harney said the Student Greens invited him to share his stories on behalf of Possibilidad, a Bangor, Maine, non-profit organization that presents seminars on globalization.
“I spent most of my adult life listening to stories, because stories have power,” he said. “Take away stories and we’re in trouble.”
Harney said after running from bombs, helicopters and bullets while in Colombia, he still managed to focus his work on the problems of the civilians and their ongoing civil war.
“I went to Colombia because I wanted to hear the stories of the people of Colombia in terms of horror,” he said.
The country has little interest in its own people, which is why others should be concerned with their stories.
“There was definitely the need. We need to talk about Colombia,” Blouin said. “There aren’t many more places across the globe that are more desperate.”
Harney was at first hesitant to photograph the country for fear of resembling a tourist, but knew he needed to capture the country on film. Harney said his photographs show the people he met and the situations in which they live under aid his storytelling.
“I do photography because I want to take the poor of the world and clunk it into the middle of conversation,” he said. “Photographs do that.
“I can’t emphasize the amazing opportunity we have at this time,” Harney said. “It’s an amazing time to do art. There’s a lot going on in the streets.”
Harney showed his audience images of Colombian citizens who have lost their power and their rights, but not their hope.
“The people I encountered in Colombia open up a space for me in society,” Harney said. “They reaffirm the importance of me living on the edge of society.”
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