“A community should not have silent and invisible citizens, but have everyone come together to help anyone in need.” So believes Dr. Michael Kim, one of ten area residents to be honored by the Salem Photo League in their new exhibit.
The Salem Photo League, a collective of local documentary photographers concerned with social issues, will open their “Everyday Heroes” exhibit with a ceremony to honor ten people who improve the lives for the rest of us, on November 22 at the new Salem Arts Building.
The youngest honorees are in their teens – the eldest is 93 – but all act with generosity and all serve as an inspiration to others.
Photographer Greg Zurbrugg selected his Hero, Reid Noel “because of how he is choosing to live his life after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease,” with gifts of therapeutic massage to others with physical challenges. “He is the most warm, positive and giving human being I know,” Zurbrugg says.
Gil Nicholson-Nelson saw a Hero in 18-year old Makayla Vogel. Vogel’s concerns about bullying inspired her to create The Phoenix Project, an organization that presents workshops on violence in schools and churches and sponsored a local showing of The Laramie Project.
“I think that many possess something that inspires others, whether it be an attitude, faith or kindness of some sort,” says Salem Photo League photographer Emily Dunay. “People become heroic when they are able to transcend themselves, latching onto kindness, faith, or hope, and become a beacon to those who are less well off.”
Dunay’s Hero is winemaker Mary Olson, owner of Airlie Winery. Less than 10% of Oregon winemakers are female, making Olson “a trailblazer of sorts for women in this industry.”
Denise Smith is Hero to Salem photographer, Jennifer Carley, for her good works on behalf of animals. Smith rescues critters of many kinds, finds homes for horses that would be slaughtered and assists others with animal food and vet bills. Smith “acts upon her convictions from her heart,” Carley says
Another animal advocate is Joy St. Peter, Hero for photographer Beverly Kenewske. St Peter founded Joys of Living Assistance Dogs, an organization that raises and trains dogs for people with physical limitations, traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, “transforming,” Kenewske says, “the lives of challenged people.”
Photographer Phil Decker admires the youngest Hero in the exhibit, Joel Haro. Haro, a senior at North Salem High School with “a natural gift with children,” has worked with both elementary students and their younger siblings in support of after-school literary programs at Four Corners Elementary School.
“Dr. Michael Kim is constantly helping out the community through fundraising and donations,” says Salem’s Jesse Farrah of his Hero. Kim, Farrah notes, is motivated by the belief that “the community is part of his larger family.”
A similar sense of connection prompts Rick Graham to take on tasks such as mowing, tilling and moving earth for his neighbors “despite having heart problems that would keep lesser people down,” says photographer Stephanie Hazen, who selected Graham as her Hero. “His positivity is catching!”
In this day of technology and hurried life styles, photographer Leah Moe’s Hero, Bettijo Bucklin, does‘nt own a computer or television and “avidly practices the lost art of letter writing to friends across the U.S. Moe says Bucklin’s “positive attitude and openness with strangers” changes others for the better.
Sarah Vick Parkison, Hero to Helen Caswell, tends the areas of Highland Community Garden that are traditionally neglected, the “commons.”
Zurbrugg talks about documentary photography, the type evident in the “Everyday Heroes” exhibit. “I have long cherished the work of W.Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank and Mary Ellen Mark,” he says, “all of whom left a mark on the human psyche through the way they recorded the world. The Salem Photo League carries on this photographic tradition.”
Those honored in the Salem Photo League “Everyday Heroes” exhibition were selected by the photographers themselves, but all attendees are encouraged to select their own “Heroes” for the annual event, to be Everyday Heroes of 2014.
Everyday HeroesExhibit opening and ceremonyNovember 22, 20136-8 p.m.Ceremony promptly at 6:30155 Liberty Street Downtown Salem