(January 27, 2011) — International photojournalist Lee Karen Stow will present her digital exhibition “42: Women of Sierra Leone” at New College of Florida, February 8 at 7 pm in Mildred Sainer Pavilion. This free event is sponsored by the New College Gender Studies Program in partnership with Embracing Our Differences, Ringling College of Art and Design and the New College Foundation.
The number 42 was the average life expectancy of a woman in Sierra Leone when Stow began the project in 2007. The photographs can be viewed online at leekarenstow.com.
“When I began to photograph the women of Sierra Leone in West Africa, life expectancy for them was just 42. A year into the project I too turned 42,” said Stow. “My life expectancy, as a white woman living in the West, is 83. I continue to question what I believe to be a violation of human rights, the rights of women everywhere to live a long and healthy life.”
Stow also trains the women she meets during her travels in photographic technique so they can creatively document their lives. Some of the women have been able to earn money through their photography services.
“Rebecca has built her studio of cement, mud and wooden poles,” wrote Stow in her blog. “She is saving up to buy a generator so that she can have electricity instead of candles.”
Mildred Sainer Pavilion at New College is located at 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Fla. 34243. From U.S. 41 turn west at University Parkway onto Ringling Plaza. At the stop sign, turn left on Bay Shore Road. Sainer Pavilion is on the right.
Images from “42: The Women of Sierra Leone” are used by Amnesty International UK and the Maternal Health Task Force in New York as part of their campaigns to make life better for women and have been exhibited at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England. Amnesty also used Stow’s images for their 2010 Greetings Card Campaign “Every Day is Mother’s Day” to highlight maternal mortality not only in Africa but throughout the world.