October 23 – November 22, 2008
An opening reception with the artist is November 2, 4:30 p.m., in the Atelier Gallery at the Stoneham Theatre, followed by a multimedia presentation at 5 p.m. in the Stoneham Theatre. Both are open to the public and free.
While there has been a lot of news coverage of the insurgency and ongoing hardships of war in Afghanistan, little has been seen or heard about how people in the country are rebuilding. Paula Lerner’s photographic exhibit, Afghan Stories, is the exception.
On display in the Griffin Museum’s Atelier Gallery at the Stoneham Theatre from October 23 through November 22, the exhibit explores another side of Afghanistan and shows a world that has been largely unknown or closed to Western observers. The exhibit runs parallel with the theater’s production of How Many Miles to Basra? Lerner, a Boston-based photojournalist, has traveled to Afghanistan multiple times since 2005 to document women’s lives. Her photographs and multimedia presentations have won many awards, including a Volunteer Excellence Award from the Business Council for Peace, an organization that helps women in post-conflict countries establish self-sustaining businesses.
“Paula Lerner is a storyteller,” says Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography. “Afghan Stories provides us with an intimate view of everyday life in Afghanistan.”
Lerner’s passion for photographing people has taken her around the world, from Afghanistan to the Amazon. Her subjects come from all walks of life and her assignments have ranged from stories on cancer patients, factory workers, and corporate executives to profiles of eminent scientists, authors, and performing artists.
“My goal is connection,’’ says Lerner. “My connection with the people I photograph lets the viewer connect with my pictures. I’ve seen people burst out laughing while looking at some of my images, and be moved to tears by others. When my work evokes that kind of response, I know I have succeeded.’’ And, she says, “My task is to find or create those fleeting moments when content aligns with art and then quietly pounce on them. This is my challenge and I strive to meet it with energy, empathy, intelligence, and wit.’’
Since 1985, Lerner has been commissioned by a variety of national and international clients, in addition to pursuing her own projects. Her work has appeared in Smithsonian, People, Time, Newsweek, as well as in European and Asian magazines. Her corporate and advertising clients include Agfa, Bright Horizons, Harvard, MIT, Children’s Hospital Boston, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and The Commonwealth Fund.
Her personal work has been exhibited throughout the northeast and as part of national traveling exhibits. Lerner earned a degree in philosophy from Harvard in 1984. She lives near Boston with her husband and their two daughters.