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“A Day in the Life of Yemen” Luke Somers Photography Exhibit
August 29 - September 30
The Rachel Corrie Foundation is honored to present the photography exhibit, “A Day in the Life of Yemen”, showcasing the work of the late photojournalist Luke Somers for the month of September 2018 at the Capitol Theater (206 5th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501) in partnership with the Olympia Film Society.
About Luke Somers
Luke Somers, a British-born American freelance photographic journalist and resident of Yemen, was killed in a failed raid attempt in December 2014, one year and three months after his abduction by armed tribesmen. Luke arrived in Sana’a, Yemen in 2011 as an English teacher; and, although revered by his students and colleagues, Luke began to shift gears into photojournalism, bearing witness to the visceral realities – both bleak and inspiring – of the country, as well as the cultural phenomena of the Arab Spring as it swept through the region.
As time unraveled, Luke became a full-time freelance journalist who worked for several Yemeni newspaper outlets throughout Sana’a, including National Yemen and Yemen Times. In the process, Luke began submitting photo essays to prestigious news organizations, including The New York Times, Al Jazeera, BBC and NPR, highlighting cultural, personal and political facets of the country’s people. Luke spent much of his time in Tent City, Change Square – the protestors’ main area of living and congregating – where he had spent countless hours, days, weeks and
months sharing food, plans, conversation, and stories. This was Luke’s home.
Purpose of the Exhibit
Luke, amid his many human qualities, was a thoughtful, intensely passionate, sensitive soul who arrived in Yemen with no agenda but to simply be. His authentic and outgoing outlook toward the Yemeni people – as well as those of any other origin – led to his work as a photojournalist, as it not only allowed him to spend the bulk of his time with everyday citizens but also to continue his skilled hobby as a photographer while receiving a subsistent wage. A primary purpose of this exhibition is to not only celebrate the life of Luke– as a human being and as a citizen of the world – but to also appreciate the beautiful, highly detailed and telling work that he created from 2011 to 2013.
After Luke’s death, the state of Yemen has only become direr. Due to political corruption, the former and present administration’s use of drone strikes, as well as Saudi-led and U.S. backed sanctions, airstrikes, and bombings, Yemen has been reduced to a deplorable state, where malnutrition and youth mortality have skyrocketed. Luke knew, befriended and loved the very people who are now either gone or struggling for their survival. Through this
exhibition, we will be providing a lens through Luke’s – and, in turn, our – eyes to the hospitality, generosity, beauty and sheer authenticity of the people of Yemen. In doing so, we hope to bridge the wide gap in understanding that defines our “us-and-them” mentality, as well as to provide a glimpse into a day in the life of a Yemeni citizen.
We invite you to participate in a journey of Luke’s powerful and transformative years in Yemen.