By Tadias Staff
Published: Monday, April 27th, 2015
New York (TADIAS) — Former New York Times photographer Chester Higgins’ upcoming exhibition at Skoto Gallery in Manhattan is timely and aptly tilted ZÉMA: A Love Song “celebrating Ethiopia’s unique landscape and people and presenting the artist’s impressionistic imagery honoring ancestral spirits along the Blue Nile.”
Higgins has been photographing Ethiopia since he first traveled there in 1973. Some of his stunning images of the country include iconic Christian and Muslim religious sites such as the Sof Omar Cave in Bale and the St. George church in Lalibela, as well as the Omo people in Southern Ethiopia.
“When I ﬁrst encountered the Omo, I had to think about how much of what was before me was a shadow of the past, smoke of the present or a light from the future,” he writes about his travels in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. “In their homeland the relationship among the people, the land and the sky guides life in very pragmatic ways, revealing something about their spiritual sense of the cosmos. Against a dramatic starry backdrop, the Omo look for the sun’s appearance in different places on the horizon to tell the seasons. When twilight reveals the four stars of the Southern Cross, the two Pointers rising in a straight line at sunset and falling to the horizon at sunrise, they know the Omo River will soon ﬂood. It is time to migrate to higher ground. When the ﬂood recedes, they return to plant their crops.”
Regarding his approach to photography, Higgins adds: “Wrestling with issues of memory, place and identity, I see my life as a narrative and my photography as its expression. My art gives visual voice to my personal and collective memories. It is inside ordinary moments where I find windows into larger meaning. Light, perspective, and points in time are the pivotal elements I use to reveal an interior presence within my subjects as I search for what I identify as the Signature of the Spirit.”
Photos by Chester Higgins, Jr.
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