Njeri and the Women of Kenya: Art as Activism: Moving the World by Netera Landar
It is impossible to ignore. Not only is art a cultural force, it is one that can change the human condition. Art is the connecting string that ties humanity into one family of shared experiences. Njeri uses Second Life® to bring powerful awareness to the world through the eye of the artist—who can not only see the exquisite in the everyday, but capture the deepest of emotions—joy, fear, love, compassion, and outrage.—Eleanor Medier, editor
Njeri Soir works in the field of human rights law in real life. In her skybox, Waganga Gallery, she exhibits her photographs that profile the women of Kenya. The exhibit features real women openly sharing all aspects of their lives with Njeri, who like them, was born there. She speaks Dholuo and some Kiswahili.
Many of Njeri’s friends are artists in Second Life. She is not a photographer in real life, and has never thought she could be equally creative. Yet the expressions of those captured in her images teach about abuse, and the consequences of having no rights. Njeri expresses the real, truthful, and memorable.
“I see many SL exhibitions, and some are not very interesting,” said Njeri, who currently resides in London. “So I wondered if I could use my snapshots to engage people. I feel that, in some way, I represent my people.”
The photographs were taken in her homeland, Siaya, Kisii in western Kenya, and also in the Taita Hills in the southeast. She said this isn’t the Africa of wars and famines, nor of elephants and Maasai warriors.
“I hope to give a sense of ordinary country women struggling to get by,” Njeri related. “Sure, the soil is hard and dry. Poverty frustrates everyone’s ambitions. But the sun shines warmly, and we exercise our laughing muscles more than you do in the West.”
Yet, the hardships revealed by these photographs open a world of ignoring infant deaths, denying domestic violence, and heroic acts of courage that can change societies. The women and children are like those anywhere. This is poignantly conveyed by the confessed dreams of the young girls, when asked by Njeri, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Little Florence replied that she wants to be the President. Kylie wants to be Miss Kenya. That was sweet and mature for a child. Amina wants to have three girls and one boy, and they will all be clever, and have a clean life, and be polite. This is the dream of most mothers.
The depth of society’s conflicts are graphically depicted here. Environmental crisis of unproductive land, lack of educational opportunities, and families living at poverty level, call out to the viewer’s compassion. Reactions to these photographs go from shock, to disheartened, to admiration, to affection, and even to unforgettable! This exhibit excellently demonstrates the opportunity of SL to spread a global message.
To see the full issue as it is originally published with all photographs and graphics, please download Unforgettable #2. For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com.
See Issue #One for more features and profiles.