Betty Press, adjunct professor of photography in The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Art and Design, was interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) Sunday about her new book of black and white photos and proverbs from Africa.
Her book, I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb, stems from her work and travels in Africa as a photojournalist. A summary of the interview and photos currently are available for viewing at NPR.org or at www.AfricanWisdomInImageAndProverb.
NPR host Audie Cornish asked Press to tell the story behind several of her photos, including one she said a Kenyan friend likes to call “Dancing on the Edge of the Earth,” which shows two boys in silhouette at the top of a hill under a sliver of a moon. It was taken in Eritrea, just as that country was celebrating its independence from Ethiopia. Another photo discussed was that of a chubby and smiling baby - sitting in the weighing scale at a clinic.
The photos offer something rarely seen in photography: the beauty, strength, and wisdom of Africa instead of the usual media focus on wars and famine. Although there are brief hints of these continuing challenges in parts of the continent, the book celebrates the good and positive of Africa that, in reality, is actually most typical.
In September, Press made a presentation on her book at the Library of Congress, which now sells the book in their bookstore and in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art bookstore. In December, Betty will travel to Nigeria to give a talk on her book at a private academic foundation.