A change of perspective

Iris Dawn Parker uses her photos to highlight South African culture. COURTESY IRIS DAWN PARKER
Iris Dawn Parker uses her photos to highlight South African culture. COURTESY IRIS DAWN PARKER

Iris Dawn Parker is bringing a piece of South Africa to Temple.

 The South African photographer will be showcasing some of her photographs during the week of Sept. 15 in Annenberg Hall and the Tyler School of Art. Parker will also be talking about her exhibits, “My Visit with Madiba” and “Mouride Muslims in South Africa” on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m.

 Parker, who was born in North Carolina, now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 She said she wants to give viewers insight on the lives of people of African descent.

“This passion is fueled and influenced by a personal need to see and put forth more positive images of daily life of black people,” Parker said.

 She said her black and white photos are a visual observation of the Mouride Muslim Brotherhood in Bez Valley, a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.

 Over a year ago, Parker said she was invited by the leader of a South African mosque to document religious practices and daily life of the community.

 Parker said she loved photography from that moment on.

“These photos would be seen publicly to show an insight into their religion and culture and to demystify some of the negative views around followers of Islam,” she said.

 Parker said she no longer was photographing only for personal interest – she wanted to give people a new view on the lives of others and she attempts to put meanings and messages behind every photo she takes.

 “Resilience and determination to pursue one’s human rights, religious freedom, dignity and a peaceful way of living is one story that I wanted to visually capture in photographs,” she said.

 Parker said her photos are part of who she is and give her a new viewpoint on her life.

“Seeing through my lens is as integral to my life as seeing with my naked eye,” Parker said.

 Parker said she wants to showcase photos at Temple to illustrate how others live, something she said society is fearful to confront. She said she hopes to have her photos displayed across the country someday.

 To Parker, Temple is a great place to start. This past January, her project “Mouride Muslims in South Africa” was on display in a Michigan museum.

“Those images generated several weeks of dialogue around differences, tolerance and the fear of the other,” she said.

 Parker said she hopes her photos help foster positive dialogue among society and build an understanding in Philadelphia.

Stephanie Rocha can be reached at stephanie.rocha@temple.edu

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