Arts

Artists, Journalists Celebrate 'Freedom to Create'

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One woman made a movie about trafficking survivors in Nepal who now track down perpetrators. Another turns spent bullets into jewelry. All were hailed by a group called Freedom to Create, focused on the power of art to heal and change.

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The Power of Men

Boushnak said the goal of the classes was to help women raise their children in a better way. "All the participants agreed on one thing: They would ensure their children finished school."

Boushnak never met the men in these women's lives, but she sensed their power. "Before I started taking the photos most of the women had to seek permission from the male member in the family - husband or father."

She said organizers of the project told her that some male family members cut the women off once they learn to read. "They see their education as a threat."

Another featured photographer was American journalist Lynsey Addario. Nothing can prepare the viewer for her at-once gruesome and heartrending pictures of women who had set themselves on fire to escape their terrible lives.

Released in March from captivity in Libya, along with her three other colleagues from The New York Times, Addario has won a Pulitzer Prize for her work in Afghanistan and other war-ravaged countries.

"Hundreds of women in Afghanistan attempt self-immolation in a bid to escape abusive husbands or the daily situations," Addario said. "Several young women see no other means of escape from their predicament."

Photographing women in this ultra-conservative country is difficult as they are often shielded from view and forbidden to interact with outsiders or talk about their private moments. In visits to several centers that provide basic burn treatment, she met up doctors and nurses working hard to save these women.

Another showcased woman was Salome, a female rapper from Iran. Salome doesn't ask for anyone's sympathy. In the Freedom to Create catalog, she writes: "I am not going to complain about how it is hard to be a female rapper in Iran." She wants to be known for her lyrics, which focus on social injustice, war, female empowerment and peace.

Lovetta Conto, a Liberian who grew up in a refugee camp in Ghana, was also featured for her work transforming bullets and shells into jewelry. Conto fled Liberia after she lost her family to the country's long civil war.

She melts and recasts spent bullets and engraves the jewelry she forges with a simple inscription: LIFE.

This article is adapted from one that was released by the Women's Feature Service. For more articles on women's issues log on to: http://www.wfsnews.org.

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Surekha Kadapa-Bose is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist. She writes extensively on women's rights, the environment and films.

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