WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs

Dec. 3, 2012

By Katelyn Gendron

katelyn@thereminder.com

WILBRAHAM — Sarah Goolishian has seen the world through a "little silver brick," since childhood. The "brick," what she affectionately calls her Canon digital camera, has been her viewfinder since age 13, and now, a senior at Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA), she has already developed a professional's eye for composition.

The astounding depth of her work, shot while on a 20-day National Geographic Student Exhibition to Tanzania this summer, has been compiled into her first solo-exhibition at WMA's Binney Gallery through Dec. 20.

"I strived to capture the essence of a culture [the Maasai of northern Tanzania], and I know that's no easy task, but I wanted people to see the cultural differences and see that in reality there are more similarities than contrasts. Sure, not everyone walks around in Maasai blankets and tire flip flops, but everyone goes about their day laughing, meeting new people, and then back home — to their family and friends. It's when you become part of the family that you realize there are no cultural divides, just unique qualities," Goolishian told Reminder Publications.

Her goal, long before becoming an Advanced Placement Studio Art student at WMA, has always been to illustrate life beyond the common candid photo.

"I took pictures like any other preteen takes pictures; but I guess I differed when I tried to take pictures that I liked in magazines or newspapers. I didn't want to take the 'snapshot' picture," Goolishian recalled.

Capturing the moments beyond just snapshots proved to be difficult in Tanzania, she noted. Members of the Maasai were, at first, reluctant to be a part of her documentation, which spanned from toddlers playing with empty plastic bottles to women laboring in the fields to a circumcision ceremony.

"I was having a hard time taking pictures of the people who lived there mainly because they had stopped their everyday life to stare at the newcomers. There was what seemed to be an enveloping sense of apprehension from everyone involved," Goolishian recalled. "I asked one of our leaders if students had been to this village before, and he responded, 'Wouldn't you stare at someone if they just showed up in your house?' So I decided to try and capture that.

"I waited and walked a few yards in front of the group and took pictures of the local Maasai's reaction to our group entering their village. However, when I focused on one hut, [which is featured in the exhibit] I realized that it wasn't apprehension, but curiosity. Slowly, one by one, a group of young girls came to the entrance of a hut to see the rare newcomers and to try and learn more about [us]," she continued.

When asked what she hopes people will take away from her exhibition, Goolishian replied, "I'm not sure I want to convey one tone, I want people to be able to interpret my work on their own and if it takes on multiple tones then that's that. The photographs that are going into the show, showcase everyday people doing their everyday tasks."

Goolishian added that the trip to Africa has had a profound effect not solely on her photography but also on her outlook on life.

"It has always been my dream to travel to Africa and go on safari, and I can't express how thankful I am for my trip. Being in that community changed how I see everything. I never thought I could judge my own culture, in the way I can now," she said.


WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
WMA student captures Tanzania in photographs
 
 
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