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Images of Child Soldiers in Africa Come to Worcester Art Museum

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


A new exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum will provide a window into the lasting impact of war through images drawn from grantee recipients at the Pultizer Center on Crisis Reporting, revealing the everyday realities of former child soldiers in Africa.

“Africa’s Children of Arms” will come to the museum on November 19th, 2014 and will stay through May 31st, 2015 and features works by internationally acclaimed photographers Marcus Bleasdale, Robin Hammond, and Andre Lambertson that tell the stories of individuals as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.

"With this presentation, I hope that visitors give further consideration to those who have lived through the atrocities of war in the present day. This insight will provide a contemporary framework for understanding the real world ramifications of the weaponry featured in Knights!, as well as a more nuanced perspective on an issue that has persisted across centuries," said Nancy Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Worcester Art Museum. "These images not only document and raise awareness of the forced recruitment and exploitation of children, but they also capture the triumph of the human spirit as these ex-soldiers come to terms with their pasts in order to rebuild their lives for a happier future."

Bringing together 30 photographs, the exhibition sheds light on one of the most pressing human rights issues afflicting Africa, where boys and girls are regularly forced into armed combat. Whether they are abducted, coerced into violence, or perceive their participation in the army as the only option for survival, many of these child soldiers are not old enough to understand the severe brutality to which they are exposed during conflict.

The images by the featured documentarians and photojournalists serve as records of life after war as these individuals reintegrate themselves into society and grapple with the unspeakable trauma that defined their youth.

Featured Works

The featured works in the exhibit will include the following:

  • Marcus Bleasdale's 2010 series Abandoned People: Central African Republic follows the lives of ex-child soldiers throughout the Central African Republic. Bleasdale is one of the world's leading documentary photographers, who uses his work to advocate for political and social change around the world. His photographs examining human rights abuses have been shown in the U.S. Senate, the United Nations, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France, and in leading publications, including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, and National Geographic, among others.

  • Condemned (2013) by Robin Hammond documentsthe crisis surrounding mental health in Africa's war-weary countries. While in Liberia, he took portraits of former child soldiers reenacting their combat roles using sticks and their hands. This series, previously displayed throughout the city of Paris on a series of billboards, won the 2014 Pictures of the Year International Award (POYi). Hammond is a freelance photojournalist who has dedicated his career to documenting human rights and development issues around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. He is the recipient of four Amnesty International awards for Human Rights journalism and the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award (2011).

  • Andre Lambertson's Liberia: Pictures from Out of the Rubble (2007) chronicles the lives of adolescents, ages 17 to 22, who exist on the margins of society. Victims of a civil war they never chose to join, these young people are often ostracized and not embraced back into the communities they once terrorized. Africa's Children of Arms marks the first time this group of works has been exhibited. Andre Lambertson is a New York-based photojournalist, teacher, and filmmaker committed to documenting stories of hope, healing, and transformation. His award-winning photo essays on social issues have been featured in Time, U.S. News & World Report, Life, National Geographic, and The New York Times Magazine.

For more information on the Worcester Art Museum or to learn more about the exhibit, visit www.worcesterart.org.


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Aurora Gallery and GArtH Gallery (ArtsWorcester)

660 Main Street; 657 Main Street, Worcester

The Aurora Gallery and the “GArtH” Gallery of Art at the Hadley are run by the organization ArtsWorcester, and both show the work of local artists, many of whom are members of the group. For a list of current and upcoming exhibits, click here and here.

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Davis Art Gallery

44 Portland Street, Worcester

Since its founding in 2006, the Davis Art Gallery has made it its mission to promote the Worcester art community and create awareness of the local creative culture. One of the ways the gallery does this is by showing the work of local artists in a great variety of different mediums. Currently, you can see an exhibit by Emily and Robb Sandagata; Unearthed, which runs through February 7th.


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