An Ordinary Year, An Extraordinary Time
A historical photography exhibit ran from October 8 to November 18, 2015. The exhibit included more than sixty photographs portraying the images of ordinary soldiers, ordinary villagers and ordinary children trying to get through each day during an extraordinary conflict.
The photographs covered a 12 month experience in Vietnam shared by 500,000 American soldiers from June 1968 to June 1969. These images had been selected from more than 4,000 photos taken by Steven Burchik, an infantryman, while serving as a sergeant with the 1st Infantry Division.
This exhibit provided the backdrop for a special ceremony Tuesday, November 10th, when the County Board of Supervisors hosted their annual Veterans Day Ceremony in the board chambers. This year’s ceremony paid special tribute to Vietnam veterans since 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the official start of the Vietnam War, when US ground troops were sent to the conflict. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Women of Conscience / Mujeres de Conciencia
Photographer: Victoria Alvarado
Victoria Alvarado was born and raised in San Francisco. Her father emigrated from Mexico and her mother from Nicaragua. During the 1940’s and 1950’s both of her parents were social activists and involved in San Francisco’s labor movement, thus, Alvarado inherited a social consciousness from her parents.
Alvarado graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where she majored in psychology and California State University, East Bay in educational psychology. She was employed as a project manager for California’s Department of Health Services where she coordinated the Latino Media Campaign for the immunization program and also coordinated media and coalition efforts for Contra Costa Health Services.
Alvarado began this project in 2001 by researching and selecting fifty Latina women in various fields throughout California who were making significant contributions to their communities. The final project was expanded to include seventy-two women. Some of these women are well known while others are more obscure. These women are role models for the next generation of youth.
After completing two courses in photography, and beginning the project at the age of 65 years, for two years Alvarado traveled throughout California photographing with a 35mm camera, which is unusual for portraiture, while using available lighting. She was actively involved in directing her subjects, not unlike a film director. The photographs were originally printed as gelatin silver prints and reprinted as digital prints. The project was financed by the photographer, individuals and supporting companies.
These photographs transcend the mere document and are more than a record. Because of the power of Alvarado’s message, it is easy to overlook the inherent beauty and uniqueness of each of these portraits where thoughtful composition, selective lighting and the subject all coalesce into photography as art.