Sara Terry & Mariam X
July 7, 2011 - July 31, 2011
Sara Terry & Mariam X
In My Life
Mariam X is the pseudonym of a former child soldier from Sierra Leone who was abducted by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) at the age of eleven. Before escaping the RUF nearly a decade later, Mariam had been made the “wife” of a rebel commander, bore him a child, and was forced to commit random executions or risk losing her own life at the hands of her “enslaver.”
“In My Life” is a collaboration between Mariam X and documentarian Sara Terry, born out of Mariam’s struggle with forgiving herself for the atrocities she committed as a younger person. The series includes vivid color images made by both women, each presented with a simple caption. Essayist Sue Brisk charaterizes their dynamic this way: “the bond between Sara Terry and her subject is symbiotic. In Sara Terry’s photographs Mariam can see herself and find the safety to rediscover her past. The images taken by Mariam herself look innocent, as though she is playing with a small camera on a class trip or snapping Polaroids for the family album. The simplicity of her imagery, however, is in stark contrast to the handwritten text describing Miriam’s nightmare. Viewers quickly absorb her experience, through the simple imagery and the simple comments, because Miriam speaks a simple truth.”
A former reporter for the Christian Science Monitor and a freelance magazine writer, Sara Terry made a mid-career transition into documentary photography in the late 1990s. Her long-term project about the aftermath of the war in Bosnia, Aftermath: Bosnia’s Long Road to Peace, was published by Channel Photographics in 2005. Her first documentary film, Fambul Tok, was supported by the Sundance Documentary Institute and premiered at South by Southwest in March 2011. Her work has been widely exhibited at venues that include the United Nations, New York; the Antwerp Museum of Photography; and Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls, New York. Her photographs are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and in many private collections. In 2005, she received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for her work in Bosnia. She is the founder of The Aftermath Project, a non-profit program that awards grants to photographers who cover the aftermath of conflict.