Photojournalist and Corcoran College of Art + Design Director Opens Latest Warner Gallery Exhibition
Posted January 14, 2011
Students gathered in the Warner Gallery of Art this week for the opening of the gallery’s latest exhibition, Apron Strings, from photojournalist Susan Sterner. Ms. Sterner shared her work shot primarily during her travels to El Salvador, Mexico and Brazil with a keen eye toward the female experience.
The following is a reflection on the exhibition from III Former Jamie O’Leary ’14:
“I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Sterner’s exhibition last Friday. It was actually my favorite one this year. The photographs were so powerful and sent a clear, strong message about the role of women in developing countries. Each portrait seemed to be able to take an entire life story and capture it in one photographic moment.
A particular favorite of mine was of the woman carrying her child on her hip with one hand and a basket with the other. She held her child with such ease, yet beyond that you could see the struggle between the woman’s pain in providing for her child and her determination to do so every day.
Another picture that spoke to me was the couple holding hands. Behind them was what I assumed to be their home or their store. They were an older couple, but you could see that they truly loved each other even after many years. To me, their clasped hands represented their commitment to each other. The objects all around them represented the life they had built together.
I was also struck by the women’s aprons displayed in the gallery. To me, each apron told its own story. I thought it was incredible how willing the women were to give up their beautiful aprons. It made me realize the impact Ms. Sterner must have had on their lives.
Having the opportunity to listen to Ms. Sterner talk about her work was tremendous. I was especially interested in the stories she told about her travels. It is my dream to travel to Spanish-speaking countries to volunteer. I would love to be a teacher and interact with kids, like I did two years ago in Mexico. Hearing about Ms. Sterner’s amazing experiences reaffirmed that desire.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to attend the art exhibit. It was one of the first times that art has really, truly spoken to me and I am so grateful for it.”
Ms. Sterner is the Director of the MA in New Media Studies and an associate professor of photojournalism at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. She started her career as a photojournalist freelancing with national and international publications while based in New Orleans, La. She then worked for the Associated Press as a staff photographer, based in Mississippi and California. With the AP she covered domestic issues such as immigration, child labor and families in poverty to international coverage of the violence in Haiti. A two-year fellowship with the Institute of Current World Affairs was awarded to Ms Sterner to photograph and write about women’s lives in Brazil. After returning to the United States, she became a White House photographer, documenting the official and the behind-the-scenes life of the presidency. Since 2006 she has coordinated the undergraduate program in photojournalism, emphasizing a multimedia and multi-disciplinary approach. She is currently at work on series of documentaries examining community-based health care. Ms Sterner is the 2010 recipient of the Betty Foster Creative Research Award for Faculty.
The exhibition will run through February 18, 2011.