Through Their Eyes

A nation's tragedy in photos

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Between April and June of 1994, in the space of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, primarily Tutsis, were murdered by their Hutu countrymen while the global community did little more than wring its hands and offer platitudes. Troops were all airlifted out when the carnage began. This state-sponsored mass murder was whitewashed by international authorities, who chose to focus on crises in Bosnia and Haiti instead. They called it "murder," "massacre," "annihilation." Not using the word "genocide" meant that the United Nations wasn't legally responsible for stepping in and stopping the bloodshed. The systematic slaughter took place in a sector of the world where there is no oil, no diamonds, no highly developed natural resources to be divided by the conquerors. Only black people brutally killing each other. At the end of it all, an estimated 300,000 orphans were left. About 90 percent of the young survivors witnessed the murder of their neighbors, their friends, and their families. Just imagine what the children of Rwanda have seen. Now, you can see what they want to show the world.

"Africa/A Harvest of Quiet Eyes" is a photographic exhibit that celebrates African culture in its entirety: heartbreak, joy, traditional ceremonies, and modern conveniences are juxtaposed so as to give a larger portrait of this much maligned, often misunderstood continent. The pride and joy of the exhibit is "Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project," a series of photographs taken by child survivors who, ten years after the genocide, now reside at the Imbabaz Orphanage in Rwanda. Using disposable cameras, these children captured their fragmented world with color, candor, and optimism. As part of Black History Month, the University of Miami is concurrently presenting a series of lectures to contextualize the exhibition. The opening reception takes place tonight at 7:00 at The New Gallery in the Wesley Foundation Building, 1210 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-284-6966, or visit www.rwandaproject.org. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik

PHOTOGRAPHY

Blind/Sighted

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"Shooting Blind: Photographs by the Visually Impaired" is a unique exhibit of black and white photographs produced by Seeing with Photography, an active group of New York photographers with visual disabilities ranging from slight impairment to complete blindness. Armed with cameras, spunk, and creativity, these artists are able to explore new dimensions of the world and express themselves through their emotionally charged photographs. These surreal images, layering effects of light and dark, are created using Polaroid's positive/negative film, as well as the "painting with light" technique, where subjects are illuminated by flashlights while keeping the shutter open for long exposures in complete darkness. This traveling exhibit was organized by the Aperture Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to the promotion of fine photography. A book of the photographs (sharing the same title as the exhibit), published in 2002, includes poignant interviews with the artists. A free opening reception is tonight from 5:00 to 8:00. The exhibit is on display through February 17 at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Center Gallery, Bldg. One, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 1365. Call 305-237-3696, or visit www.mdc.edu. -- Lyssa Oberkreser

Bite-Size Cinema

Go see short shorts

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Most feature-length independent films follow a well-trodden road to glory: Get noticed at Sundance, gain critical acclaim, and reap a passel of awards come Oscar night. But what about the movies that are too edgy, weird, and short? For the past decade Microcinema International has stood as a bastion of hope for avant-garde auteurs and the downtrodden masses who yearn to see subversive views from the underground.

Tonight's installment of "Independent Exposure X" provides a look back at some of the more than 1300 quirky films presented through this screening program. See short experimental films like Armor of God, a flick directed by Jim and Brett Haverkamp and Ingram that features a noise rock Christian musician, and Dave Johnston's pictures in ireland, a documentary of collaged images threaded together with music by Franz Schubert and words from philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Celebrate Microcinema International's tenth anniversary tonight at 8:30 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way. Tickets cost six to ten dollars. Call 305-673-4567, or visit www.mbcinema.com. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik

History on Canvas

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For nearly 25 years, Jason Schoen has vigorously pursued his passion for collecting American art of the Thirties and Forties with the vision of fostering a deeper understanding of the regionalist impulse that appeared in much of the period's art. Part of his collection on view at the Lowe Art Museum (1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables) showcases the work of Social Realist and Regionalist artists who captured the upheaval and uncertainty that marked the American landscape between the Great Depression and the end of World War II. "Coming Home: American Paintings. 1930 -- 1950 from the Schoen Collection" features more than 120 narrative works resonating with the sweeping social, cultural, and political transformations that unfolded during that time. Hobos, prizefighters, cabbies, gamblers, lovers, and a collage of others pepper the paintings, offering what Schoen calls a "slice of life and a window onto an important period in American history." Experience Schoen's passion as he speaks about his collection tonight at 7:00. Admission is three to five dollars. Call 305-284-3535, or visit www.lowemuseum.org. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus

 
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