Olivia Caime ’23
On Feb. 4, a new exhibit titled “Land of People: Photographs of Israel and Palestine,” opened in the Mather Art Space. The exhibit showcases a photo series captured by Shuye “Eric” Zhang ’22 while he was on the “Fresh Perspectives” trip last August sponsored by Trinity College Hillel.
“The mission of the ‘Fresh Perspectives’ trip was to shine an intentional light on the complexities and nuances of contemporary life in Israel and Palestine in an immersive and experiential way. Our goal was to expose students to multiple narratives and perspectives of people from different backgrounds and communities who make their lives in Israel and Palestine,” stated director of Trinity College Hillel Lisa Kassow.
As a photographer, Zhang captures moments that speak to him personally and represent his understanding of the world around him. “The viewfinder is my second vision,” he stated. He also noted, “Photography to me is more like a lifestyle. I never give myself any pressure when I take photos. I enjoy the process of framing the shot and waiting for the moment that attracts me.”
An avid traveler, Zhang was particularly interested in going on the “Fresh Perspectives” trip, saying “Israel was a whole new place to me. I had never been to any of the countries in the Middle East. I am particularly interested in the history and culture of Israel and Palestine.” The exhibit consists of fifty-seven photos and is divided into three sections: landscapes, people, and the “Fresh Perspectives” group. When discussing the first section, Zhang noted, “As we travel, we start to realize how little space we occupy in the world as individuals.”
The landscape photos range from photos of infrastructure to plentiful open spaces. His favorite photograph of the entire series falls in this category, a photograph of Tel Aviv Pier in Israel, which was taken just after sunset during a Shabbat event.
“I really like this one. It has enormous room for me to think about the element in the image. It was a moment that belonged to these local people and it reflects their philosophy of life. This image also shows people’s interaction with the environment,” he stated.
The second series is comprised of 15 photographs of Israeli and Palestinian people. “I felt that the environment was visible on their faces,” Zhang explained.
Lastly, the third series features the group of students on the “Fresh Perspectives” trip, which Zhang described as “energetic, diverse, and powerful.” This adventure undoubtedly gratly impacted each of the 17 participants and was a significant factor in Zhang’s work.
“I hope the students came away from the experience with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complex and compelling cultural, historical and political realities that exist together in that tiny place that is sacred and important for so many people,” stated Kassow.