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Norman photography show explores plight of women

Photographs by Phil Borges are the focus of an exhibit at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Modified: April 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm •  Published: April 30, 2013

Bringing the issue closer to home is his picture of a woman, holding the railing of a Harlem building, recruited into the sex industry in her early teens, who founded an organization to “end commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

Another low-key yet evocative American image is a profile picture of Lucille Windy-Boy, a 71-year-old Montana grandmother and great-grandmother with a kindly smile, known for making high-quality tepees.

Seen in profile, too, is the lined face, under a pulled down hat, of Transito, a 91-year-old woman called the “Rosa Parks of Ecuador” for protesting her molestation by a hacienda owner when she was 17.

Visually understated but eloquent are three pictures of Ethiopian women, ages 28, 48 and 52, who have urged “the end of female circumcisions among the 1.3 million Afar people” in the country.

Another unforgettable image is his picture of a woman who became “the first female surgeon in Sri Lanka” after she realized that many of her patients had burned themselves following domestic abuse.

Also hard to meet is the questioning look of a woman from a northern Sri Lankan village, who holds up a picture of her younger self, before she was burned by acid, thrown by her boyfriend, angry at her for studying nursing.

Seeming to look out of the picture at the distance rather than us, by contrast, are three young Buddhist nuns with shaved heads who fled to India after they were imprisoned for protesting the occupation of Tibet.

Apt to stir our consciences at the same time that they reward our eyes and make us feel a little uncomfortable, the photos and facts in the show, as well as an accompanying video, are highly recommended to visitors.

— John Brandenburg