Community invited to participate in collaborative project entitled – “Our Democracy”

On Wednesday, March 29th at 7:00pm, Appalachian Arts Center will host a presentation by award-winning photojournalist Andrea Bruce. Ms. Bruce will share images and discuss her current project entitled, “Our Democracy,” which is a collaboration between Bruce and communities throughout the United States that will culminate in a traveling exhibition and book with ‘chapters’ published online (via Instagram) along the way. “After photographing failed and fledgling democracies in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, I am intrigued by the definition of democracy in my home country” says Bruce, who documented the lives of Iraqis and the US military as a staff photographer for The Washington Post and later as part of the VII Network. For over ten years she has chronicled the world’s most troubled areas, focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, and through those experiences, has heard many different perspectives on democracy from those looking at it from afar, those aspiring toward it, and those trying to understand its meaning. Returning home, Bruce “felt compelled’ to explore these ideas more fully and in 2016 was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University where she studied political theory and democracy and “picked the brains of many of the most dedicated minds on this topic.” Bruce invited “professors and authors who had never before met to her tiny Cambridge apartment for “Democracy dinners” where intense conversations on democracy unfolded, complete with disagreements and allegiances, expertise and experiences. These discussions helped to shape Ms. Bruce’s project, ‘Our Democracy” which she envisions as “a long-term ethnographic study of democracy in the United States— a multimedia piece providing an intimate window into how the country’s citizens see democracy and the role of government in their lives – a visual record that documents the state of democracy at this moment in US history.”

Everyone is invited to come hear Andrea Bruce’s presentation illuminating the scope of the project on March 29th.  In the following months, those who enjoy taking photographs are invited to capture images that reflect their ideas about Democracy and what it means to them. Participants are invited to display their images in a special exhibit during July 2017 at Appalachian Arts Center. This exhibit will be held in conjunction with the ‘Americana’ Quilt Challenge in which local quilters interpret the chosen theme in red, white and blue fabrics. Additionally, images may be submitted to the ‘Our Democracy’ Instagram page where they will join pictures taken in other communities throughout the USA. Some images may be selected by Andrea Bruce for inclusion in a large traveling exhibition and book at the conclusion of the two yearlong project.  It is not necessary to be a photographer in order to participate in the “Our Democracy’ project. In fact, the majority of the images included in the project have been taken using cell phone cameras, but amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to participate!

In 2010 the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) awarded Andrea Bruce a grant for her work on conflict in Ingushetia. She has been named Photographer of the Year four times by the WHNPA, received several awards from the Pictures of the Year International contest, and was awarded the prestigious John Faber Award from the Overseas Press Club in New York. In 2014 she was awarded the 2014 World Press Photo 2nd prize for Daily Life singles for the image ‘Soldier’s Funeral’ and the inaugural Chris Hondros Fund Award in 2012 for the “commitment, willingness and sacrifice shown in her work.”

This event is free and open to the public. If you would like to attend the presentation, please call 276- 596-9188 to reserve a seat. Appalachian Arts Center, a part of Southwest Virginia Community College, is located on Route 19, in the “Old Archie Helton Store,” 2.5 miles south of Claypool Hill.

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