Portraits of Uganda

This page gives complete information about Carrie Wagner’s Portraits of Uganda Exhibit. Scroll down for Exhibit Description,  Artist Statement, About the Artist, Sample Exhibit poster, Limited Edition Prints for Sale, Ugandan Artifacts and Crafts, Exhibit Signage (Story Boards), and Educational Options


Exhibit Description:

Portraits of Uganda By Carrie Wagner

This exhibition features photographs from Carrie Wagner’s book, Village Wisdom: Immersed in Uganda, Inspired by Job, Changed for Life.  Written, photographed and published by Carrie Wagner in 2010, fifteen years after she and her husband completed three years in Uganda with Habitat for Humanity International, Village Wisdom tells an engaging and uplifting story that touches a soft spot in hearts of people from all walks of life. Through evocative photographs and candid journal entries, Wagner contrasts the richness of culture with the challenges of poverty. She takes the reader and viewers through her transformational process of cultural adaptation, detailing the depths of depression and the heights of spiritual enlightenment.

The original Portraits of Uganda photography exhibit was a collection of photographs, taken from 1991-1994 in the village of Ibanda in western Uganda. The exhibit debuted at the Asheville Area Arts Council and was featured in three other Asheville galleries during 2008. 15 black and white images from this original collection make up Volume 1 of a Limited Edition.  Photographer and author Carrie Wagner expanded the exhibit to include images from her return to the village, with her husband and two young sons, in 2009. 15 color photographs are included in Volume 2 of the Limited Edition collection. In addition to the 30 photographs in the limited edition series are five “story boards”, 9 other photographs and an exhibit banner.

Artist Statement

Some images remain etched in your heart forever. I discovered this as I dusted off the 15-year-old negatives of our time living in Uganda.  I realized that though they have been packed away in notebooks for years, the images are just as vivid in my mind as they were when I experienced the moments. What I also discovered is that these images are timeless. While they represent a place and time, as all photographs do, on a broader scale they speak about the incredible richness of life that co-exists with poverty environments. Our assumptions about impoverished conditions are challenged as we witness joy, community and simplicity in the lives of those who have not been consumed by the material world. Children laugh and play; people work hard to sustain life; they help each other build; they socialize at the markets; they eat together and tell stories for entertainment.

These portraits represent the Bakonzo tribe in western Uganda. Bakonzo means “mountain people.” They live on the steep slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains, often referred to as “Mountains of the Moon.”  This collection of images, selected from hundreds of negatives shot during 1991-1994, portrays village life of the Bakonzo people.  As you look into these faces, I hope you see pride, strength and a willingness to share.

I remember my first experience aiming a camera at an African woman, deep in the mountains. As I gasped at the horror in her face, Job, our Ugandan host said, “She doesn’t want you to take her picture. People here believe that you are stealing their soul into the camera.” I put the camera away and waited nearly a year before photographing people. Once I had built trust and personal relationships, the camera ceased to be an obstacle and I was able to capture the beauty of life in rural Uganda with integrity and authenticity.

Many years later, I came to realize that the African woman was right. Making photographic portraits is taking a little piece of an individual’s soul. Authentic portraiture requires a level of trust. When people “let me in” I am able to capture a sense of their spirit, whether it’s through their eyes, their actions or their expressions. I have not in fact stolen their soul; rather, they have given a piece of it. I am honored to present these portraits because I believe that the portraits honor the true givers.

      About Carrie Wagner

Carrie Wagner, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, worked with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) for 11 years, serving with her husband in Uganda, Americus, Georgia and South Africa. Her work with HFHI covered the spectrum of community grassroots development to international coordination of programs in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia.  Through her position as International Training Director (1997-2000) Carrie wrote and published key training tools and delivered training on a variety of subjects including non-profit board development, strategic planning, diversity, and cross-cultural communication. Carrie has a BA of Environmental/Visual Design from North Carolina State University. She has practiced photography for 25 years, specializing professionally in portraiture since 2000. Carrie lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and two sons.


Ugandan Artifacts and Crafts

As an option, the exhibit can also include Ugandan artifacts and crafts from my personal collection. These pieces are treasures. Some made by children, others made by women in co-ops, each piece is unique and tells a story about Ugandan culture. Below are examples. Not shown but also available are drums, clothing and a variety of jewelry.

Story Boards

Story Boards are 18″x32,”  mounted on 3/4″ black-edged gator board. These are enlargements of title page spreads from Village Wisdom and serve as the signage for the exhibit. A copy of the book Village Wisdom is displayed with this section of the exhibit.

Educational Options:

Portraits of Uganda is an immersive exhibit that has appeal to a variety of audiences. Some are drawn into the authentically beautiful portraits; others are drawn into the history and culture of an Ugandan tribe of people; children are fascinated by the similarities and differences they experience as they hear stories (through video, presentations and workshops by Carrie) about the cross-cultural adventures of the Wagner’s return visit to Uganda in 2009.       Power Point Slide Show – Lessons from Uganda

http://www.vimeo.com/16092889 (Click to see 2 minute Village Wisdom Book Trailer)Carrie does a variety of educational programs associated with the exhibit and her book, Village Wisdom. Contact her directly to learn more.  828-273-6342

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