There’s another side to the extreme poverty in Africa. Concordia journalism student Patricia Vasquez Lopez wanted to show that side by taking natural, spontaneous pictures during her internship in Africa last summer. Her pictures can be seen this week at an exhibit entitled The Faces of Burkina Faso, which is part of the Concordia Student Union’s Poverty Week events.
“I think that makes the pictures beautiful,” said Lopez, “It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t planned, it was a moment that I captured.”
According to Lopez, there are many ways to discover new places and help people in Africa. Lopez herself was one of seven communications students from Quebec interning at the Association Munyu in Burkina Faso. At this women’s organization, they held workshops to train African journalists in multimedia and investigative reporting. The internship was organized by the Ministry of International Relations and OXFAM.
While she was in Burkina Faso, Lopez loved capturing spontaneous moments on camera. “Every time I had my camera out, those kids would go crazy on me,” said Lopez. “They were like ‘me me me, I want a picture.’”
Her exhibit features 24 portraits of the faces of friends and neighbours that she met in Burkina Faso. Six of the pictures are black and white, and 18 are in colour. While most were spontaneous, some were posed. Lopez believes the photographs give the viewer an insight into the lives of the people she met.
“These pictures communicate something special,” she said. “It shows faces, communicates a lifestyle, a culture, and it’s something very simple, but at the same time it has a very strong message behind it.” Lopez explained that her photos show the good nature of the people.
“You see these people through their eyes,” said Lopez. “There’s no malice in them, they’re completely open people and nice and very transparent.” She stated that the people she met were happy with simple things, and form a friendly community.
Lopez hopes viewers will be inspired to start their own projects.
“Patricia Vasquez’s exhibit on Africa will put a human face on the many issues confronting this continent already plagued by extreme poverty,” wrote the CSU’s VP external Adrien Severyns in an email.
Lopez developed an interest in photography while taking courses at Vanier College. She credits her love of the craft to her mentor, Robert Del Tredici, a Canadian photographer who currently teaches cinema at Concordia University. Lopez is a member of the Concordia chapter of Journalists for Human Rights and used to work for CIBL radio station.
“Her exhibit will contribute to educating the Concordia community on the many faces of poverty around the world,” said Severyns.
Catch the exhibit outside CSU office on the seventh floor of the Hall building this week, and look for it at the Centre Culturel Simon Bolivar from April 1 to 15.