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at the
Charles B
. Wang
Asian/American Center, SBU




by Ling Zhu

March 2017

Mark Edward Harris is a photographer who has pointed his lens in more than 90 countries. His works are currently in an exhibition at the Wang Asian / American Center focusing on his travels in the Asian and Pacific Islander countries of China, India, Iran, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, and Vietnam. Many of the countries he has visited have faced natural catastrophes or political turmoil, such as the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the Vietnam War, and the division between North and South Korea.

Looking through his photographs, one might notice that a majority of the subjects in them are people doing typical things or portraits of expressive faces. Most of his pictures are not the generic photos taken by a tourist from another country, but from a traveler who wants to show a country through its people. In news, we often see images of destruction or the political coverage of a country as a nation-state. Rarely, however, do we find stories of ordinary citizens amid the beauty that a country can hold despite whatever turmoil is going on.

Harris the wanderluster captures daily activities such as playing with friends (Helping Hands, Chicken Village, Vietnam, 2003) or studying in class (High School English Class, Pyongsong, North Korea, 2014), and in each photo, creates a story for the subject. Through these normal everyday activities there is a sense of familiarity between the viewers and the subjects that is unspoken of in media.

Through the eyes of the photographer we see ordinary people, but knowing the history behind the country they reside in, we gain respect for them, for while they are in one sense no different from us, they have overcome more than we could ever imagine. Harris' photographs allow us to focus on an individual and forget, for a brief moment, the political side that tends to dehumanize or ignore the people affected most.

Mark Edward Harris was a wanderluster in Asia who was able to capture what news media often neglect. Through his photos, he has brought us with him on a paradoxical journey filled with excitement through the mundane tasks of daily living.

Mark Edward Harris will give a talk on how to do photojournalism on Tuesday, March 7th, at 11:30 am in Wang A/A Center Lecture Hall I.

The opening reception will be on Wednesday, March 8th, at 5 pm in the Wang A/AC Skylight Gallery.

While going to Wang to enjoy the ambiance along with the art is the preferable way to see Harris' photography, it is also online on the AA E-Zine Facebook page. We apologize that our photographer's reflection gives a distorted view of Harris' work in some of the photos.






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