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Heather McClintock May 27, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Uganda.
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Akullu Evelyn and Akello Mildred, Abia IDP Camp, Uganda, 2006

Raised on a dairy farm in Vermont, Heather McClintock received her BA in photography from New England College in New Hampshire, and Arundel, England, then relocated to New York City to work in prestigious commercial studios. A growing discontent with studio work, along with a desire to pursue humanitarian relief work led to her involvement with documentary photography. Heather first visited northern Uganda in 2005, where she focused on the strength and grace of the Acholi people, ravaged by both mental and physical cruelties resulting from a brutal twenty-year civil war. She returned in 2007. Her Uganda work garnered several awards, including the 2006 Center for Photographic Art Artist Project Award and her partnership with Blue Earth Alliance

About the Photograph:

In February of 2002, the LRA attacked Abia, searching for food, supplies and children to abduct. Mildred was inside her home with her six children when the rebels set fire to all the thatched roofs in the camp. The civilians were then forced to choose between staying inside their burning homes, or being shot by the rebels while attempting to escape. After she and her children were burned, Mildred’s husband left her and found another wife.”

“Stepping over the edge and pursuing documentary photography is intrinsically not supposed to be about oneself… but of course life is never so black and white. The situations we find ourselves in as photographers inevitably point and entwine that outer lens back onto ourselves. How do we photograph differently so people won’t turn away from more pain seen in another’s eyes? Are we taking that nebulous something; pride, dignity, humanity, away from someone more than we are actually helping? In northern Uganda, I lost all hesitancy and self-doubt when asking for everyone’s permission to photograph them. ‘We want our plight to be seen. Show these images. Bring people back to help us. Please.’ We are graced with a huge amount of responsibility when we don’t look away from another’s plight, another’s soul. We have been entrusted with the burden of helping people with our images. And most disturbingly, we can leave these places. Are we then strong enough to continue to persevere on their behalf from the outside? If they can survive with such strength and grace, how dare we do anything less? Seeing their pain IS the point. Their stories of devastation and dignity reflect the ambiguity and mystery within each of us.”

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Comments»

1. Anne Henning - May 27, 2008

Dear Heather.

I’m humbled by the power of your connection with this project.
It’s so tender and compelling that one does not look away, but instead, moves delicately, with a vulnerability into that world. what to do and how to do it? Your dedication is a magnet. It’s inspiring and encircles one with compassion.

With much admiration and respect,
anne henning

2. Henry Arvidsson - May 27, 2008

I have seen a lot more of Heathers photography. She really shoots from the heart with her brain switched on, showing us the faces of a conflict in a place few of us know about. With a dedication for the cause and a very dignified treatment of her subjects she turns the tragical into graceful imagery. I strongly recomend her website: http://www.heathermcclintock.com
Keep the flame buring Heather

3. Edward van Herk - May 27, 2008

“And most disturbingly, we can leave these places. Are we then strong enough to continue to persevere on their behalf from the outside?”

Thank you, very touching words and a very strong image.

4. Eric J. Keller - May 27, 2008

A haunting, stop-you-in-your-tracks image and a moving artist’s statement. Thank you for sharing this important work with the world. I look forward to viewing more of it in the future.

5. Geoffrey Hiller - May 27, 2008

To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure about including this image- it troubled me for several days but after talking to Heather it became clear that I had to. It’s a fine line how a photographer shows the suffering of others but in Heather’s case her empathy is so apparent.

6. Marian Boston - May 29, 2008

A privilege to have met Heather in Uganda, we stayed in the same bed and breakfast! I was merely a visitor but could see the despair in the eyes of everyday people, who just need a helping hand, a kind word. They are non-complaining, as is the case in most African countries. It is the Government of these countries who should be held to account. I returned feeling unable to cope with every day life, could not tolerate the greed here, the ignorance and selfishness. We have to do what we can from afar, we support a child through school, I speak to her on the phone, I send clothes, I really want to fly out there and bring her home but this cannot be. Anyone can help, you just have to do it. Best wishes to Heather and to everyone who is interested in her work. Thanks for this opportunity.


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