Palmer show captures snapshots of global injustices

Alumna Amy Kaslow ’81, who has been photographing around the world for 30 years, showcases her body of work in a Palmer Gallery exhibit, “Victims, Perpetrators, Eyewitnesses and Survivors.” Photo courtesy of Amy Kaslow


Alumna Amy Kaslow ’81, who has been photographing around the world for 30 years, showcases her body of work in a Palmer Gallery exhibit, “Victims, Perpetrators, Eyewitnesses and Survivors.” Photo courtesy of Amy Kaslow
Alumna Amy Kaslow ’81, who has been photographing around the world for 30 years, showcases her body of work in a Palmer Gallery exhibit, “Victims, Perpetrators, Eyewitnesses and Survivors.” Photo courtesy of Amy Kaslow

On Monday, Oct. 24, the Palmer Gallery in the College Center began its exhibition of “Victims, Perpetrators, Eyewitnesses and Sur­vivors: Life After War,” featuring photography by Amy Kaslow ’81. A notable alumna, Kaslow has traveled the world for almost 30 years pho­tographing and documenting the lives of those impacted by war and political upheaval, forced to leave their homes for safety and refuge. This exhibit, which will be displayed through No­vember, is complemented by an Artist’s Recep­tion on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., where Kaslow will be talking about her photog­raphy, as well as addressing any questions.

Kaslow’s work starkly captures post-conflict zones all over the world, in the form of portraits of victims, perpetrators, eyewitnesses and sur­vivors. These photographs are accompanied by captions that explore the stories of the featured individuals who have been personally impacted by the conflict, conveying from whence they’ve come, what has transpired since the image was taken and what the future might hold, socially and economically, for these people and their part of the globe.

In Kaslow’s words, “These are the men, wom­en and children moving on after living through one of an array of conflicts that have roared over the span of our lifetime: the Holocaust, the Gu­lag, the Cold War, Apartheid, the Khmer Rouge killing fields, eight years of hand-to-hand combat between Iran and Iraq, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the Rwandan genocide, sub-Saharan Africa’s war on HIV-AIDS, gang control in Central America, the Drug War ‘pacification’ of Brazil’s favelas, endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

She continued, “Fallout and opportunism are defining features of life, post-conflict … This se­lection of portraits appreciates the integrity of those whom others sought to degrade and the grace of those who rebuild their lives.”

In an interview, Kaslow elucidated what in­spired her to pursue the theme of war in this se­ries: “I have been covering at-risk communities in the United States and abroad for my entire pro­fessional career as a print, broadcast and online journalist. My subjects have moved through un­speakable degradation, and yet they carry the dig­nity and determination to live their lives as fully as they can.”

When asked about the message she hopes to send across to her viewers, Kaslow expounded, “We have much to do in this world to help rebuild people, to help entire nations mired in the ves­tiges of conflict. Our challenges are constant: the absence of the rule of law…the marginalization of [and violence toward] women; children who be­come part of the lost generation; the bastardiza­tion of aid; endemic corruption that corrodes en­tire nations…I could go on and on…the list is long.”

She further emphasized, “I think students are the essential audience—the people who are bound for fields in health, governance, economic development, entrepreneurship, the arts and be­yond. People who are learning about ways they might impact the world. The exhibition has been physically displayed or projected on big screens [across America] and now Vassar, which is treat­ing this show in a most remarkable way. I hope to spur lively conversation about the challenges and perhaps even commitment to be part of the solutions.”

Monica Church, Associate Director of the Palmer Gallery and the installer of this exhibit, mentioned in an interview, “The Palmer Gallery is thrilled that the timing worked out and that the show was available to travel to Vassar. During the fall semester, exhibits range from faculty-based interests to alumnae/i works as well as showcas­ing work from the greater Vassar Community and beyond. Robert Brigham, Professor of History on the Shirley Ecker Boskey Chair, began the discus­sion with Amy about the possibility of bringing her exhibition, Life After War to Vassar because it ties in nicely with various curricula–she will be meeting with Brigham’s Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy course and his International Hu­man Rights class.”

Church also added, “Amy Kaslow is a photo­journalist who is both a good photographer and an excellent storyteller. I am moved by her ability to navigate the spaces in which she works. While observing and listening to people in truly diffi­cult and horrible situations she is able to find and make human connections that she then shares with her viewers.”

Teresa Quinn, Assistant Dean of the College for Campus Activities, talked about her feelings towards Kaslow’s work as well: “This show, ‘Vic­tims, Perpetrators, Witnesses and Survivors’ is important and timely, as the photographs and nar­rative in this exhibition shares the plight of refu­gees, displaced by war and in some cases facing slim chances for survival. Amy is extraordinary in her ability to portray the resilience of these in­dividuals, who have been through horrific situa­tions and live in dire conditions, yet they continue to persevere.”

The beauty and relevance of this show is boundless, and Kaslow will expound on her work at the Artist’s Reception on Oct. 27. In relation to what she may address at the reception, Kaslow di­vulged, “Folks often ask how I can do this work. Isn’t it depressing, they ask? Quite the contrary. It is sobering, of course. But above all, it is inspiring. I am fortunate to capture people who are moving forward, despite the horrors they have experi­enced in the past and the obstacles that lay ahead. They are the very best of the human spirit.”

So do take a few moments out of your day to stop by the Palmer Gallery and become immersed in the lives and stories of the individuals that Kaslow has so skillfully expressed.



  1. Amy ,thank you. Opening peoples eyes is a very good thing. Only in seeing can we grow to understanding our human race. Your friend, Claudia R. Zelaya

  2. I have just seen Amy at a moments, but can see her human heart absolutely. Surely through 30 years she created positive habits of patience and humanity, she succeeded humanbeing. And of course, she gave up to enjoy the normal things who anyone also desire in the life. I don’t know about her anything, I dare sure she is an artist of humanity in the world. And of course she will KEEP passion to discover and create the true value of humanity, self sacrificing, be patient to adapt and enjoy with all who is person, what of nature, of animal and somthing exists with breath and growing growing up every second in this earth. I just know that if i am her, I will always to try to do all good things to reach out to the end of her purpose: “pervasiving humanity in over the World”. I hope every second will have a peaceful heart and human soul more like her!
    Thanks for you came the patient heaven _Angelart to give me the belief of the true human value is still existing to nurture and develop it everyday in the world of western people.
    Because i come from Vietnam, I have not ever gone abroad any country yet in the world to feel the true human value clearly and absolutely. My English is like broken English, hope everyone will understand all what i really want to say and share.
    Again thank Amy for your true humanity!
    I Believe in your human heart to go on creating a lot of normal things around your life but they will surely be marvellous to pervasive human nature around the world.
    Phúc, Việt Nam.

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