Robert Sypitkowski

Uganda: Women, Children, and Waiting

Exhibit Location: Stairwell Gallery

Meet the Artist:  Thursday, April 11  |  6:00-7:00 pm

Notes: Proceeds from sales of these photographs will be shared with the Bangor Public Library and the Hope For Kabingo women's cooperative.

About Robert and His Work

These unposed environmental portraits attempt to capture the energy and vitality of children, women, families, and men who wait with few prospects. I try to show the color and beauty of these courageous people, and, I hope, suggest a complex engagement between the subjects and the viewer – sometimes curious, sometimes wary.

In May of 2023, I volunteered with Hope for Kabingo, a Cincinnati-based NGO, that had developed a health clinic, a water system, a residential high school for girls, and a women’s center in Kabingo, a village of subsistence farmers in the west of Uganda.

Most of these photographs were taken in Kabingo, many from the window of a van along a slow twenty-mile commute from my lodging in the town of Kyotera to the village of Kabingo. Two photographs – Woman and Child and Woman in Red – were taken at a ferry crossing of the Nile in northern Uganda in 2022.  All were taken with a small Sony RX100 camera and minimally processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Formerly a theatrical scenic designer, I moved to Maine in 1981 to teach at Bates College.  I then became an environmental engineer and spent 25 years remediating soil, water, and air contamination with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  After working for Médecins Sans Frontières in Indonesia and Sudan, I now volunteer with Engineers Without Borders to design, build, and refurbish drinking water systems with university students for small rural communities in Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Uganda.

In response to witnessing the dignity and resilience of the people I encounter volunteering in developing countries, I am reviving a long-dormant interest in photography.  In response to their generosity, sharing of their homes and tables, smiles, and stories, often the only thing I have to offer is eye contact and respect. While acknowledging the difficulties, poverty, and lack of opportunity, these photographs attempt to present the hope, joy, sadness, and beauty of these courageous Ugandans.

 This is my first photographic exhibition.

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