Portfolio Category - Portrait Awards 2014
For over ten years Nicaragua has been a touchstone, the place where I go to connect with the world community. The reality that I've experienced in Nicaragua is often completely at odds with common expectations. Nicaragua has the misfortune to rank as the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere (after Haiti.) Envisioning a poverty-stricken land creates expectations. The gaze of the Nicaraguan people defies those expectations.
Carrying the cultural baggage of living in the U.S., it is hard to reconcile the many contradictions that are visible everywhere. People living in makeshift shacks, often protected from the elements by little more than thin plastic sheeting, smile shyly but graciously. Bare dirt yards, fenced with barbed wire and teeming with poultry, fat pigs and scrawny dogs, are carefully swept; the clothing immaculately clean. Public lanes are littered with trash and lined with lush tropical vegetation punctuated with glorious flowers. Children seem to be everywhere, playing with the simplest of things, like the four piled onto the chassis of a broken stroller crashing through the underbrush in the woods.
The Nicaraguan gaze is forthright and dignified; the people proud, resilient and welcoming.