Acclaimed Photography Exhibition Returns to Kent Campus

Kent State University is pleased and proud to announce the return of “We the People,” a photography exhibition that shines a light on our common humanity.

The exhibition will return to the Kent Campus, on the Lefton Esplanade, from Sept. 6-30, overlapping with the Kent Creativity Festival, and will include featured events like speakers, films and discussion sessions.

“We the People” is a series of 25 large portraits of Northeast Ohio residents, mostly from Akron, who are also refugees from various countries. With images by photographer Erin LaBelle, the project is sponsored by Kent State’s Global Understanding Research Initiative (GURI). Each photo tells a story in that refugee’s own words and invites viewers to see the world through their eyes.

The exhibition is partly inspired by Italian photographer Luigi Toscano’s “Lest We Forget” traveling exhibition of Holocaust survivor portraits, which started at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., in 2018.

In concert with the exhibition, Kent State and GURI will show two films, followed by discussions. Both screenings are free and open to the public.

Manthia Diawara’s An Opera of the World will air in the Center for the Visual Arts, Room 165, from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 4, followed by a panel discussion with Joseph L. Underwood, Ph.D., professor of art history; photographer Tariq Tarey; and two participants from the “We the People” exhibition, Eka Anthony and Hsa Win. Diawara’s picture, filmed on location in Bamako, Mali, depicts the staging of Wasis Diop’s “Bintu Were, A Sahel Opera” — which tells the story of West African migration to Europe and merges traditional Malian music with Western operatic form.

On Sept. 16, in the Kent Student Center Kiva, from 7:30-9 p.m., the university will screen segments from Ai Weiwei’s 2.5-hour documentary “Human Flow,” followed by a panel discussion with Françoise Massardier-Kenney, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Applied Linguistics and co-director of GURI, and Abdi Shaeye, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics and co-PI of Somali Economics Impact Study of Franklin County. Chinese activist, artist and director Ai Weiwei captures the global refugee crisis — the greatest human displacement since World War II — in this breathtakingly epic film journey. 

For more information about the “We the People” exhibition, visit

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Media Contacts: 
Paul Haridakis,
Françoise Massardier-Kenney,
Joseph Underwood, 

UPDATED: Monday, June 24, 2024 01:46 PM
Dan Pompili