Images of Innocence: ‘The Child’ photo exhibit opens at La Jolla Library

By Will Bowen

Kids across cultures is the theme of the new juried photography exhibition, “The Child,” presented by the Friends of the La Jolla Library in the Community Room Art Gallery, now through July 15.

It’s an amazing and surprising show with 30 images that focus on children from across the globe — most from impoverished cultures in India, Myamar, Peru, Russia and rural China, although there are a few from American backyards.

Prepare to be dazzled by a mix of travel photography, visual anthropology and photojournalism that represents the work of 14 local photographers. La Jolla can boast some unusually fine “shooters,” most of whom are self taught, and who have brought back illuminating images from around the world.

It’s a very timely show, speaking to the theme of cultural diversity and the new waves of immigration occurring around the world.

Everywhere, people are faced with the challenge of integrating the exotic and the alien into their once traditional worlds. Perhaps through viewing “The Child,” we can learn to better appreciate the “differences” we now see all around us.

Photographer Nicole Caulfield has lived in La Jolla since 2007. Formerly, she was a personal chef in Fiji and once owned The Mandala bookshop in Santa Monica.

Caulfield captured a shot of an Indian woman with her son just leaving a Hindu temple in Alleppey, Kerala — an area known for spices and tea production. Caulfield said she was in India to visit her daughter and son-in-law, who were filming a movie, starring Donald Sutherland, which screened at Cannes.

Next to this image, Caulfield has a photograph of a young father attending to his daughter dressed as a ballerina for Halloween. Both are standing in front of Burns Drugstore in La Jolla where Caulfield works.

David Wiemers’ photo is of a toddler wearing a white sailor cap, popped up behind a fence to peer into a neighbor’s yard in Uglich, Russia. The child has a stern, suspicious look on his face as he assesses the strangers in the next yard.

Diane Marinos’ images might be the flagships of the exhibit. Her “Brotherly Love” captures a brother and sister walking down a dusty road in the morning mist in a village along the Chin Win River in Burma. She said she snapped it because “I liked the boy’s affection for his sister.”

Marinos’ second submission is of two Indian girls in red dresses at a wedding in Gujarat. One girl’s toes poke out from under her dress. “I just loved her toes,” Marinos said.

Edie Sanchez, who has four photographs in the show, formerly taught parenting skills. She also traveled extensively with the Save the Child organization and took pictures wherever she went.

Her image of a little Vietnamese girl in a village near Hanoi is a charmer. The child is sitting on a ladder that leads up to a loft-like bedroom where her family sleeps. Her mother was given a loan by the Vietnamese government to start a business selling Pepsi-Cola in front of her home. Mother is the family’s sole provider because her husband has a heart condition.

Two of Sanchez’s images are of her granddaughter in Palo Alto. In one, the granddaughter is on a merry-go-round and in the other, she plays “mommy,” dressed in 1940s-style clothing.

Sanchez’s fourth photograph features four boys looking out the door of their schoolroom in the high Andes of Peru.

“Children are the most important resource we have,” Sanchez reflected. “It is very important to pay attention to them because they are our future. My photographs reveal how parents from different cultures all show their cultural pride by how they dress and care for their children.”

Sally Bucko said she is passionate about photographing indigenous peoples. She has three images in the show taken in Myamar (formerly Burma). One depicts three young Theravada Buddhist novices playing with their umbrellas. Another is of three children lying entwined on a large pile of cabbage heads in a marketplace. The third is of young monks chanting prayers in a monastery.

Bucko also presents an image of four Chinese girls marching down a rain soaked dirt road in galoshes on their way to serenade some tourists. Each of the little ones’ faces is a joy to ponder.

Kelley Oberg has the most innovative image in the show. It is of a young girl dancing over the rocks at La Jolla Cove. Oberg digitally painted over the photograph (pixel by pixel) and then printed it on unframed metal to create a highly enhanced image. Oberg has a career in La Jolla as a food photographer. Originally from Iowa, she moved here “because the light in La Jolla is so exquisite.”

If you go:

“The Child” is open for viewing at La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave., 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; 12:30-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday through July 15. Admission is free. (858) 552-1657.