Into The Light is a photographic journey into the remote northern county of Turkana, Kenya, deep in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa: the land, the people, the light.
By New Zealand / Brooklyn artist, Cherie Aarts Coley.
The shores of Lake Turkana are believed to be the place where the ancestors of all living human beings originated. Today, the county of Turkana in the far north of Kenya is one of the poorest and most vulnerable places on earth. Life expectancy is 42 years old. One in three children die before the age of 5. Only 15% of females are literate.
In July of 2013 I traveled to this remote place with my husband and a couple of people from the charitable organization, Friends of Turkana (FOT). My work with FOT was to document the trip and their work in Turkana. But I also had a personal mission. I had been to Africa many years before, and had spent several months documenting the people and landscape of Central Africa through photography and life drawing. I recalled it being a place of extremes: extreme beauty, poverty, joy and suffering. It was a place where life in its myriad forms was both rich and raw. I was excited to return, this time to a place I'd never been.
Inevitably I took hundreds of photographs in Turkana. In the editing process I leaned towards selecting images that evoke the extremes of beauty and joy, both in the land and in the people. To me, light, beauty and joy are virtually synonymous and yet also hold the potential for a multiplicity of meaning.
And in Turkana, the light – in its many interpretations – is strongly palpable. You can feel it – most obviously in the light of the sun (the climate is hot and harsh) – but also within the people of Turkana. There's a deeply inspiring sense of aliveness in these people, despite the almost insurmountable odds against them.
Also, for me personally, the light here represents a movement towards enlightenment (awareness, understanding, knowledge, insight) through education –in this case especially for girls in Turkana, who are generally denied the vast benefits of education.
All photographs are printed onto a lightweight but lasting metal.
Friends of Turkana is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. To the extent you do not receive any benefit in exchange for your contribution, then the entirety of the contribution is tax-deductible.