From Venezuela To St. John’s, Students Promote Justice

50 St. John’s students participated in “SOS Venezuela,” an exhibit that uses mobile photographs taken by non-professional photographers to display government brutality throughout the protests in Venezuela.

The idea in presenting an exhibit to the students and faculty of St. John’s stemmed from when the directors of the project, Professor William Morel and Professor Parvez Mohsin, recognized how the media was putting such diminutive focus on the protests in Venezuela and the violence surrounding it.

With little emphasis being presented to the world, people enduring the protests began to use social media sites as an outlet to show the existing brutality.

“Through the efforts of brave citizens using social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few blogs, people started to realize the severity of the situation,” said Professor Morel, an associate professor for photography.

Professor Mohsin, who is also the director for the Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery in Sun Yat Sen, was personally affected with the recent violence. With his parents currently living in Venezuela, Professor Mohsin wanted to show the intensity and violence people in Venezuela underwent. One of the earliest victims, a college student that died under government fire, was a family friend of Mohsin’s.

According to the New York Times, since the start of the violence in February, more than 40 lives have been claimed along with hundreds injured. Increased accusations of government brutality from protestors who have been beaten and tortured by soldiers have led the Venezuelan government and the opposition to build a truth commission, in which human rights abuse allegations would be followed up, as reported by the New York Times.

At St. John’s, both directors hope the grid of photographic images will leave a lasting impression on students.

“We hope that students will understand the power of images to transform and mediate social activism and that this process of learning will increase the potential for achieving justice and equality in society,” said Professor Mohsin.

“It is important for young adults to realize their responsibilities in shaping the world. Everything we do or don’t have consequences well beyond ourselves,” said Professor Morel.

Students of Professor Morel’s and Professor Mohsin’s “Photography I” and “Understanding Art” classes created the large piece, using research and the gathering of different photographs to produce a framework of well over a hundred images.

“SOS Venezuela” will be open to students in the Sodano Coffeehouse beginning later this week.