Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia and Siberia are places
that, for most of us, seem far away and exotic. For me, they are places
that feel like home. As a student of Russian, I visited the capitol of the
former Soviet Union and was awed by the stark Stalinist architecture mingled
with quaint historic churches. My fascination with Russia led me to spend
5 years living and working in the rapidly changing world of post-Soviet
capitalism where I thrived on the chaotic economic and political landscapes
that challenged my flexibility, patience and creativity.
Since 2000, I have traveled nearly a dozen times back to Russia and other
former republics. Just last year, I was in Georgia prior to their controversial
elections and had the chance to visit far away cities close to the Turkish
and Armenian borders. Traveling as a consultant for ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural
Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative
Assistance), a nonprofit organization out of DC, I found time to develop
my passion for photography, amassing a collection of 35 mm slides of the
people and places in these regions.
Through my desire to share my experiences about these places with Americans,
I have developed slide presentations for schools, businesses and other community
organizations. My first public photography exhibit took place at L'Amyx
on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. It was entitled, "Faces and Places"
and incorporated 22 images from around the world, including Lance Armstrong
at the 2003 Tour de France and Thich Naht Hanh, renowned Vietnamese Buddhist
monk and peace activist.
My second show, entitled "Off the Beaten Track", ran in November
2004 at Javarama Coffee House on Park
St. in Alameda. With 80 images from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, the Republic
of Georgia, Moscow and Siberia, as well as 6 short stories and lively captions,
this exhibit is really storytelling in images.
On Friday, November 5th, the show opened with a bang as part of the First
Friday series in Alameda. Over 150 guests enjoyed live cello music by Elaine
Kreston, homemade feta-walnut dip (my favorite) and a journey off the beaten
track in photos and essays. Many guests won prizes during the raffle and
I even held a spontaneous auction at the end of the evening!
I've created a virtual exhibit for those who are not able to make it to
Javarama by the end of November. Please enjoy the exhibit by clicking on
the countries to the right and then clicking on the thumbnails in order
to get larger images and the brief captions that weave the stories.