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Sarah Herman's avatar Sarah Herman

Abide: to dwell, to wait. The photographic image can invoke feelings, trigger thoughts, and project perceptions to be pondered. It may be a single moment in time or achieved over many years of documentation. Documenting the world around us allows others to view the world with empathy, evoke change, engage in conversation and overcome apathy. When we travel we look for common elements: the corner store, local restaurants, main street, the indicators of human civilization. We unknowingly draw upon our stored memories of familiarity and comfort and compare them. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees have these elements but does it compare to our ideals of civilization? We plant roots and build communities, they abide. The Syrian civil war is approaching its seventh year, close to 12 million Syrians are displaced within their country or have fled to neighboring countries in hope of survival. Many of those I meet are educated teachers, nurses, doctors, and business owners hoping that the treacherous escape from Syria would give their families a chance at survival. Others were nomadic tribes pushed from their lands and livelihood, forced to create new lives on foreign land, to build communities while retaining some semblance of tradition. This tent is one of thousands that make up refugee camps throughout Lebanon, Jordan, Greece and Turkey. The tents are rented to refugees by military landowners, at a cost ranging from $50-$200 per month. Most tents include limited access to electricity or heat, no running water or toilet facilities. Six, eight, up to twelve family members co-exist in the small space. Many escaped from their homes with little more than the clothing on their backs and no documentation to become legal citizens of the countries they are escaping to. Legal citizenship is required to work, gain access to health care and to send children to school, forcing many educated Syrians to work and survive at levels significantly below poverty. Abide, depicts the human cost of conflict. It aims to help break down stereotypes about refugees and it highlights the difficult journey while bringing humanity to an inhumane war. It¬ is a collection of images from undocumented and documented camps in Beqqa Valley and Tripoli Lebanon taken in 2017. The images depict life inside these temporary shelters. Most have no known direction but forward, away from the war torn country they once called home. As part of the installation I encourage everyone to write notes of hope and encouragement for the refugees on the outside of the shelter. Upon completion of Art Prize 9, I will be returning to countries neighboring Syria to continue documenting the crisis and will be sharing the notes with refugees I have met; to ease the fear that world has not forgotten them! I am one person but our voices united together are many and we can change the world.

Entry Details
  • Art form: Installation
  • Depth: 10 foot
  • Medium: Photography and Installation
  • Width: 12 foot
  • Year created: 2017
  • Height: 8 foot