POSTPONED TO DECEMBER 5: A Teacher & Student at a School for Girls in Tanzania

November 25, 2019 // Filed under Blog

Over the past three years, Morristown resident Jean Merrill has spent time volunteering at a secondary school for girls in Morogoro, Tanzania, teaching an intense course in English Fluency for those students about to enter high school. Photographs from this teaching experience are on view at Bernardsville Public Library during the month of December and are the topic of a talk she will give at the opening reception on Thursday, December 5. The reception starts at 6:00pm; her talk will begin at 7:00 pm.

In Ms. Merrill’s words: “I have tried to capture the environment of a school for young girls who have been rescued from early marriage, pregnancy, child labor, sex trafficking, or elder care. Half the students in the school are orphans. They have been rescued from these risks and for an education that will allow them to lead productive, independent lives. I was their teacher. But along my journey, they became my teachers and I their student. So I have also tried to capture their stories [in my photographs] which I hope you can read in their faces and hear in my description of secondary school education for African girls.”

She continued, “Robert Capa once said, ‘If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.’ I have been drawn to the inspiration, hope, despair, joy, sorrow, contemplation, and determination I see in the human face, particularly in the faces of women and girls. I have tried to capture those emotions in my photographs. It’s important to get close enough without invading the privacy of the moment which I see in the eyes or facial features of my subjects. It takes patience and luck to capture that moment.”

Jean Merrill is a retired neuroscientist whose lifelong interest in photography became more serious about 10 years ago. Her travels around the world intensified her focus on taking photographs of women. She writes “I think what draws me to the female face, young and old, is both a kinship between me and my subject and my desire to share their captured emotions with others, hoping the viewer will feel and identify with something they see in each face…pain, strength, determination.”
Awards for two of her photographs in “EXPOSURE,” an annual international juried photography competition and exhibition in the Durango, Colorado Open Shutter Gallery, as well as a recent solo exhibition “The Female Face” highlighted these environmental portraits of women and children.

The show is open during regular library hours, unless a meeting is in progress. There is no charge to attend the lecture; advance registration is requested. Click here to sign up.

Photo: Just after cleaning the blackboards, SEGA Girls’ School, Morogoro, Tanzania


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