Budding Artists in Tanzania

A child looks at her photos for the first time. She is smiling.

Look through the view finder and snap a picture. It’s an action that we repeat to often in this day and age that we don’t often stop to reflect on how powerful it is. With the click of a button you have captured an image that allows others to see the world from your point of view.

Young adults with intellectual disabilities in most parts of the world have very limited opportunities. They are often victims of intense stigma and discrimination. Rarely are they ever seen as possessing their own perspective.

This April the participants in the young adult program got a chance to “develop” their own perspectives. Sarah Buyer, sister of our current Carman International Fellow, Meritt Buyer, is Education and Program manager at Arlington Center for the Arts, a gallery and art education center outside Boston.

During her visit to Moshi, she taught a mini-lesson on photography for the young adults. They were were each given a disposable camera and took a trip around their neighborhood, with the freedom to capture whatever moved them to take a picture.

When Sarah returned to the US she had their photos developed and sent back to Moshi. The young adults were very amused by the traditional film cameras, as they are accustomed to visitors to the center having digital ones that let them see the picture as soon as it was taken.

The resulting photographs are a beautiful glimpse into the lives of the young adults. There is a photograph of the direct care staff at the center sifting through rice for their lunch. There are people collecting water from the well. There are banana trees. There is the church sanctuary. There is the dirt road they walk down everyday.

On Aug.11, the Arlington Center for the Arts opened a gallery show of the photos taken by the young adults, entitled “Developing Perspectives”. There was also a gallery talk by Rich Carman, former Vice-President of International Relations at Mosaic.

Framed and unframed prints were available for purchase, with the proceeds going to support Mosaic’s work in Tanzania.

This project showed that not only are people with intellectual disabilities valued community members; they are artists with unique perspectives on the world.

We are so grateful for the work of Sarah and Meritt in organizing this project and to Arlington Center for the Arts for their support.

To learn more about the exhibit, click here.

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