The youngest who is profiled is only 10 years old. Her name is Jovia Aber, and she works at a quarry on the weekends to pay for school supplies. She wants to be a doctor. The oldest is Akello Olga. She’s 74 and has been breaking stones to gravel for 28 years at the equivalent of 32 cents per day. They are two of almost four dozen women featured at Springfield’s Emerald Art Center in Dan Nelken’s photo exhibit HeadStrong: The Women of Rural Uganda. Nelken, a longtime portrait photographer, has traveled to Uganda several times and, he writes in his artist statement, has become “impressed by the women’s work ethic, poise, sense of humor and resilience.” He teams up with Ugandan author Beatrice Lamwaka to translate the stories of these women into short biographies that accompany the photos. Uganda, Nelken notes, has one of the fastest growing and youngest populations, and in rural communities the women are often the primary wage earners. The portraits display the honor and dignity of these women and girls. You should see them and read their stories.
HeadStrong: The Women of Rural Uganda by Dan Nelken, an ongoing photographic and storytelling project, is at Emerald Art Center through March 26. The gallery is open 11 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday. Nelken also will give a talk on the project1 pm March 14. The Zoom link is us02web.zoom.us/j/81518768008.