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Photographer Joan Lea Miller: “Vanishing Tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley”

Update 4-6-’17: The Opening was a success! Thanks to all visitors & participants, especially those who took something home!

Meet International Photographer Joan Lea Miller at her One Woman show: “Vanishing Tribes and Culture in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley”, Friday , March 31, 5:30-7:00 pm. Opening night party with complimentary wine and treats. She will also be giving a slide presentation (details to be announced). Joan’s photography will be on display at the gallery through April 29.

Photographer Joan Lea Miller

Vanishing tribes and Culture in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley
Photos of an exotic forgotten tribe from Africa. Meet and hear first hand about this exotic experience with these fantastic creative natives fully adorned with face and body paint and the most interesting examples of local flora and fauna. Catch a glimpse of these vanishing tribes people before their heritage is lost forever.

Photographer Joan Lea Miller:
Joan Lea Miller was born in Los Angles, California but has lived most of her life in Miami, Florida. She attended the University of Miami where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree. Later she went on to earn a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the Florida International University and a Masters degree of Fine Art from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Her journeys have taken her crisscrossing the globe in search of compelling travel experiences and exotic photographic images. Through out her life she’s found inspiration in traveling to really remote, difficult and risky countries such as Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Northern India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia’s Ring of Fire.

Her goal in traveling is getting a solid feel for the day to day life of the ordinary people who make up the country. Culture is the key to experience that solid feel for a peoples daily life. Culture focuses not on isolated individuals and whatever personal characteristics they may possess, but on societies and the beliefs and ways of behaving that its members hold in common.

Every culture has its own customs and ways. Regardless of their approach to life, however, Miller has found that people in other cultures are not all that different from us. We all share the same basic wants, needs and desires.
Suri Culture: The Suri are among the 12 tribes in the south of Ethiopia where they live in remote mountain regions. Tensions surround all the tribes resulting in violent battles. They have a fierce culture, with a liking for stick fighting called Donga or Saginay, bringing great prestige to men. It is especially important when seeking a bride. They are very competitive and risk serious injury and occasional death. The males are often shaved bald and frequently wear little or no clothes during the stick fights. Bodies will be painted, some will wear limited protected gear.

Piercing and lip plates are a strong part of the Suri culture. At the point of puberty in order to beautify themselves for marriage, most women beautify themselves. They have their bottom teeth removed in order to get their lower lip pierced then stretched so as to allow for plates up to sixteen inches in diameter. Having a lip plate is a sign of beauty and the bigger the plate, the more cattle the woman is worth. This is important when the women are ready to get married.

The Suri pride themselves on their scars and how many they carry. Women perform scarification by slicing their skin with a razor blade after lifting it with a thorn. Men scar their bodies after they kill someone from an enemy tribe. These rituals are extremely painful.

Villages normally range in size from 40 to 1,000 people. Village life is communal, sharing the produce of the cattle (milk & blood).

Though their chiefs may wear the fur crown of a pagan priest king, they are merely the most respected elder in a village. Literacy level is very low.

Each household in the Suri village is run by a woman. These women also own their own fields and are allowed to use their profits however they wish. Every age group has a certain role. Young men who are not yet considered warriors help with cattle when they reach age eight.

Jennifer Clinard, Artist of November 2015

Jennifer Clinard "Sunny Afternoon/Water St." Oil on panel 12x16" $450
Jennifer Clinard “Sunny Afternoon/Water St.” Oil on panel 12×16″ $450

“I love exploring the landscapes of Florida. It gives me a sense of place and home. I am especially intrigued with the wild places such as the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Outdoor painting demands both acute observation and my full attention. Although the product is a still image, the process feels more like an exquisite slow movie, I strive for a sense of oneness and congruency with the landscape.”

See her page.