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South End photographer captures dignity in Ugandan lives

Posted by Your Town  November 26, 2012 07:00 AM

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A longtime South End resident and community-based clinical social worker, Jennifer Coplon spent the last few years training to be a photographer as well, at MassArt, the MFA and the New England School for Photography. Last summer, a social-work trip to Uganda brought her face to face with the homeless/landless poor of Uganda. She encountered people who had suffered multiple losses from AIDS, malaria and civil-war trauma, elders for whom there was little likelihood of improvement in their economic circumstances. Coplon was struck by their dignity, an observation that happened to interface with another passion of hers, creating positive images of the elderly homeless. Coplon, whose work includes photographing and interviewing formerly homeless elders here placed in permanent housing through Hearth Inc., says that by developing a portraiture focused on human dignity she hopes to counter the marginalization and discounting of our own elders: "When you look at this man here," she said, pointing to a portrait of a Ugandan in a brilliant deep-blue garment,"you’d never guess he’s dirt-poor."

Jennifer Coplon’s exhibit is open now, at the South End Library. It is free to all.

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