Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"On the Same Map" at Loyola University Museum of Art
Yesterday morning I walked down Michigan Avenue in a cold rain to Loyola University's Museum of Art to see On The Same Map: Hope is A Human Right/A Photographic Journey of Partners in Health. I was feeling the dissonance of a photo collection about the poorest of the poor being displayed between Bottega Veneta and Ghirardelli and steps from the Magnificent Mile, but everything else faded away once I stepped in the second floor galleries and started examining the nearly one hundred large format images.
In vivid color and stark black and white, the photos show us people being served by the twenty-year old health organization Partners in Health in some of the most destitute and hopeless parts of the world: the central plain of Haiti, Peruvian shantytowns, a TB prison in Russia, snowy hilltops of Lesotho, war-torn Rwanda. There is chilling photographic evidence of the ravaging power of disease and starvation here, including images of children that may break your heart. But PIH's work is the creation of hope as well as health.
In the center of the middle gallery, a series of before and after pictures show the "Lazarus effect" of AIDS and tuberculosis treatments on once deathly ill patients. Seeing these powerful images, you cannot help but feel intensely the injustice that deaths from these and other chronic infectious diseases that afflict the poor are preventable.
The show is a tribute to the life-transforming work of Partners in Health, a treasure of found moments of grace and beauty, a call to action and a reminder of how indomitable is the human spirit.
On The Same Map: Hope is a Human Right runs through January 4. Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. MIchigan Avenue, Chicago.