“Unguarded, Untold, Iconic: Afghanistan Through the Lens of Steve McCurry”

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The Michener Art Museum’s upcoming exhibit features the work of famed photographer, Steve McCurry.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Photography by Steve McCurry

In an exhibition that opens on July 16, 2016, the James A. Michener Art Museum will present a collection of photographs by Steve McCurry, the photographer whose iconic image “Afghan Girl” captivated the world in 1985. Offering thought-provoking perspectives on Afghan culture, food, religion, and history, the exhibition “Unguarded, Untold, Iconic: Afghanistan through the Lens of Steve McCurry” will include that photograph as well as dozens of others captured by McCurry in Afghanistan during the last 35 years. On view through October 23, 2016, the exhibition will also feature a selection of work from ImagineAsia’s Young Women’s Photography Initiative, illuminating women’s lives in Afghanistan, as well as a selection of rugs designed by Afghan women through Azru Studio Hope.

“This striking exhibition invites our visitors of all ages to envision and understand daily life in a country where circumstances are dramatically, harshly different than here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,” said Lisa Tremper Hanover, director and CEO of the Michener Art Museum. “We are very proud to present this globally themed exhibition of work by a renowned Philadelphia-born photographer that will most certainly invite personal contemplation as well as public dialogue.”

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“The work of Steve McCurry has resonated around the world for decades, sharpening our understanding of quotidian life and perilous situations of people in places that most Westerners never have the opportunity to visit,” said Kelsey Halliday Johnson, the Michener Art Museum’s curatorial fellow in photography and new media, who curated the “Unguarded, Untold, Iconic” exhibition along with Louise Feder, assistant curator.  “This exhibition presents a chance to explore both new and familiar photographs from McCurry’s career-long connection with the complicated, diverse, and intriguing country of Afghanistan, which he was first drawn to after reading James Michener’s novel Caravans.”

James A. Michener, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author for whom the Michener Art Museum is named, wrote the historical novel Caravans in 1963, when Afghanistan was inching towards war with the Soviet Union. Steve McCurry has said that reading the book was among the numerous prompts for his first trip to Afghanistan in 1979. Passages from Michener’s Caravans will be featured in the exhibition; this unique pairing will highlight a cultural narrative of how two leading figures from Southeastern Pennsylvania have contributed to crucial global understanding of Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century.

“Complementing the Unguarded, Untold, Iconic: Afghanistan through the Lens of Steve McCurry” exhibition will be a roundtable discussion with McCurry, a book signing with McCurry, a lecture series, a film series, and curator gallery talks. For listings and details, visit MichenerArtMuseum.org or call (215) 340-9800. Group tours are also welcome.

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