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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Life + Arts

World photographer presents at MFAH

Donna De Cesare, the award-winning photographer, journalist and videographer, will present her portfolio of photographs that tell stories of individuals who find a way to survive from challenging life and circumstances at 6:30 p.m. at Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Her presentation will provide a historical overview of her portfolio, but the primary focus will be her coverage in Latin America, Tracy Karner, director of UH Visual Studies program, said.

‘The Visual Studies program is really about bringing people from different disciplines and different perspectives together, and Donna’s work really does that,’ Karner said. ‘Donna really sees how photography builds bridges.’

Much of De Cesare’s early work began in Ireland during the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, Karner said.

‘She found that her photographs were ways of helping people on either side of the conflict to see each other in a way that they could not have before,’ Karner said. ‘So her whole approach is to use photography to build bridges between people and to help broaden our understandings through visual information.’

Tuesday’s event will focus on De Cesare’s work with Latin American individuals who have grown up in conflict zones, from regime conflicts to gang violence.

‘She’s not a drive-by photographer. She’s not one of those people that just shows up for the weekend, shoots and runs off,’ Karner said. ‘She’s more ethnographic. She actually goes and lives with people and gets the sense of what their life is like and what their concerns are, and then really tries to bring their story forward in a way that’s just really amazing.’

In addition to De Cesare’s integral work that will give individuals a broad idea of our world, Karner believes there are several benefits in attending the evening event.

‘It’s an amazing opportunity to hear from someone who has been all over the world and has worked in all kinds of amazing circumstances, and has a passionate story to tell that will inspire (students),’ Karner said.’ ‘(And) to understand how big our world is and how important images have become in how we understand our world.’

The Visual Studies program is a co-sponsor of the event along with other UH partners, including Visualistas: Friends of Visual Studies, the Tenneco Lecture series, Center for Immigration Research, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, Mexican-American Studies, Sociology and Women’s Studies.

‘We’re delighted to be able to bring her, because she really exemplifies some of the values of our program,’ Karner said. ‘She’s also an amazing person who has done some incredible things.’

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