by Marianne Salza
Photographer Lou Jones formed a figure of the African continent with his hand, drawing a line across northern Africa to illustrate the Sahara Desert, where the Sahel stretches from coast to coast.
There, he noticed a distinct architectural style.
Engineers utilize the abundant sand as building material. Jones depicts this ingenuity and images of modern Africa in his photographic series: PanAfrica Project.
The PanAfrica Project, on display April 6-May 4 at Beacon Photo & Frame, emphasizes the progressiveness of contemporary African countries – the industries, education system, sciences, religion, art, and natural resources of the diverse people.
“We spend a substantial amount of time in each country,” explained the award-winning photographer whose career spans over 40 years, and includes pieces published around the world in magazines like National Geographic, and Time.
Through his portraits, such as a man piloting a Boeing 737 airplane, and an Ethiopian biotechnician researching means of naturally increasing a crop’s yield, Jones hopes to transform people’s visions of Africa, and challenge clichés.
“I realized that I was a photographer and have a universal language. I don’t need translation. I can show people what’s going on,” said Jones, East Boston resident. “Modern Western media deals with three issues: poverty, pestilence, and conflict.”
For more than five years, Jones and his team have traveled to 14 African countries, delving into the culture for a month at a time, with plans of returning to visit all 54 countries with the goal of expanding Western culture’s understanding of the economy, urban life, and development.
“We see entrepreneurs, families, accountants, and music,” Jones described, often with his eyes closed as he imagines the vivid scenes in his mind.
View Lou Jones’ PanAfrica Project, featuring a selection of images by acclaimed photographer, George Panagakos, who has accompanied Jones on several of his trips, at Beacon Photo & Frame, 185 Winthrop Street, Winthrop. Jones will be speaking during the exhibit’s opening reception on Saturday, April 6, 8-11pm.
“Lou Jones has probably taken over 100,000 photos of these 14 different countries in Africa. I asked him to show photos of people that our audience can empathize with and understand their personalities,” noted John Munson, Owner of Beacon Photo & Frame, who admires Jones’ series as an anthropological study. “We are all one. We have the same emotions, desires, and tendencies. That’s what I’m trying to point out.”