Artworks for Change

violence, women and art

Prisoner, (c) 2011 Omo Valley, Ethiopia

    I am honored to have my photograph, "Prisoner" selected for inclusion in the touring exhibition, Off the Beaten Path, curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg, Executive Director and Chief Curator of ArtWorks for Change.  a non profit organization.

Art Works for Change produces traveling contemporary art exhibitions that address social and environmental issues. A nonprofit organization, Art Works for Change applies the transformative power of art to promote awareness, inspire action, provoke dialogue and address systemic change. The exhibitions serve as a crucible where artists, museums, advocacy and educational organizations, and the local community may join together. For more information visit or contact

ArtWorks for Change, Spring 2011 Newsletter


As our exhibitions travel, occasionally they take on new works and artists. That’s the case with “Off the Beaten Path,” which welcomes Fatou Kande Senghor and Elisabeth Sunday to the traveling exhibition. Their work speaks to the some times harsh landscape of the African culture with respect to women.
Elisabeth wrote in the Field Notes to her 2009-2011 travel to Ethiopia:
The Hamar women are spirited and outgoing. They were not shy and very interested in talking with me about whatever I asked about. One thing that all the women were interested in sharing was about the bloody beatings they received at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends. I told them it was illegal in Ethiopia for a man to hit his wife or girlfriend. They didn't know that. … The Hamar woman pictured, named Keri, allowed me to photograph the very large scars on her back she had received from her husband. She doesn't want her daughters to be beaten. And she doesn't want her sons to beat their wives.

Additional Note:
There are many tribes in the Omo Valley-while some do decorate themselves with paint and flowers, others have a darker side. The Hamar women have a particularly tough time by comparison with the other tribes. A young mans' coming of age ritual in Hamar culture is to beat a virgin(s) bloody. And after marriage, he continues to beat his wife as a demonstration of masculine power. It is expected of them. I interviewed a few Hamar women about this issue to the point where my assistant and driver were both afraid of retribution from the Hamar men if we didn't leave quickly. Then we were summoned by the local authorities and questioned about what I was doing there. Change is coming slowly. Ethiopia has outlawed this practice, but has no way to enforce the ban and until we spoke, the women I met were unaware the beatings were against the law, including a 17 year old woman I photographed.

I plan on returning to the Omo Valley again in December- this time to meet the Suri people and continue the work with the beautiful painted Koro men and meet the Suri people from across the Omo River. And while the Omo Valley cultures are extraordinary, colorful and diverse- they face three looming threats: alcoholism, forced removal in the next 5 years and displacement from foreign agribusiness (China) purchasing their lands and drought. 


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