Fotoseptiembre Exhibit 'Bantu Eyez' A Look At Somali Community In San Antonio

Sep 12, 2014

A new photo exhibit is set to open, and its origins are curious. It’s called Bantu Eyez.

“Bantu Eyez is a wonderful exhibition of 26 photographs by Cristina Jimenez Sanchez, a wonderful local photographer," said Allison Hays Lane, University Health System’s art program manager who is curating the exhibit.

“And she had documented, over the last five years, children and adults from the Bantu community -- Somali community -- here in San Antonio,” she said.

Sanchez got to know the refugees from Somalia, and after a time brought her camera along. The pictures she took are full of charm, and full of character.

"Their faces and stories are just incredible," said Lane. "Just the joy and expectation in their eyes are what really draws you in.”

I noted to her that there is also trust.

“Trust! Cristina was very successful at getting to know them. Spent quite a lot of time with them,” Hays Lane said.

Given that these children have seen some of the worst of war can bring, that trust is key to the photographs she was able to take.

"They, of course, were intrigued by her. She’s got a great personality in that way,” Hays Lane said.

The exhibit opens to the public on Tuesday.

"It’s located at the Robert B. Green Pavilion Clinical Campus downtown on the sixth floor, and we will have an opening reception for the artist and all are welcome to attend," she said. "It’s a part of the Fotoseptiembre international exposition.”

I asked if any of the subjects of the photographs will be there:

“Yes, we are welcoming any of the subjects to come and I hope they will," she said. "It’ll be kind of like a reunion because a lot of these pictures were taken over the last several years. I’m sure that some of these children have grown up to be beautiful adults and members of our community.”

The photo exhibit is part of the University Health System’s art in healing program.

“You heal faster being surrounded by color and nature and art,” Hays Lane said.