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Artist Talk with Tony Schwartz: Mountain Gorillas Versus Pygmies in Uganda
May 16 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree – $7
Join Griffin Museum member, Tony Schwartz, as he discusses his photography as it relates to ecotourism, gorillas, and the survival of an indigenous people in Uganda.
In Africa, efforts to protect endangered animals frequently have negatively impacted people living traditional lifestyles in those areas. The Batwa Pygmies resided for millennia in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of southwestern Uganda, along with Mountain Gorillas. In 1992, the government evicted them; the forest had been designated a World Heritage Site and national park, to protect highly endangered mountain gorillas, and gorilla ecotourism. While Mountain Gorillas have benefited from protection from poaching and forest destruction, since eviction the Ugandan government has not provided the Batwa reparation, jobs, housing assistance, or income from ecotourism. Thus, they suffered from high childhood mortality in the years after they left the forest, and although their situation has improved somewhat since then, they still are “ultra-poor,” living on less than $0.80 per day. One place in which the Batwa now live is Buhoma, a village at the park entrance. When I first met them in 2006, they were said to be happy with their new lives, but this was belied by their demeanor and living circumstances. I returned to Buhoma in December 2017 to interview and photograph them, and to trek to see the gorillas again, as well. Over two days the Batwa told me ancient stories, described and demonstrated their former forest life, and discussed their current status.
After the talk, Tony will have a book signing for “Stories of the Batwa Pygmies of Buhoma, Uganda” – Mountain Gorilla Protection and Ecotourism Ended the Traditional Lives of Ancient Forest-Dwelling Hunter/Gatherers. The book is just printed. This book, by Tony, Musinguzi Amos, and Dr. Scott Kellermann, provides complete interviews of the Batwa, and shows more images than will be showcased at the talk. He also will have for sale six framed photographs of mountain gorillas and pygmies. All profits from sales will be donated to the Kellermann Foundation, for the benefit of the Batwa Pygmies.
Before devoting himself fully to photography, Tony was an academic veterinary surgeon and immunologist. He has been on the faculties of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Yale School of Medicine and, most recently, the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. There, he served as Professor and Chair of the Surgery Department and as an Associate Dean until retiring. He resides in Boston, MA and Peru, VT.
As long as Tony can remember he has been involved in the visual arts. This started with drawing and has included clay sculpture, oil painting and film photography. Since 2003 his artistic passion has been photography, and since retirement from academia, he has focused on it exclusively, using digital capture and producing archival pigment prints.