Show Opens Window to Darfur’s Pain

Posted May 6, 2009 at 4:44pm

In her time at NBC, anchor Ann Curry has had many achievements. In addition to having anchored the “Today— show for 12 years, Curry also serves as anchor for “Dateline NBC— and substitute anchor for “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.— She has interviewed many world leaders while still handling feature segments with ease.

Starting this week in Bethesda, Md., though, one of her lesser-known roles will be celebrated.

The Washington School of Photography will showcase Curry’s still photography in an exhibit called “Exploring Darfur by Ann Curry,— which will be open from Friday through June 5. Thirty photographs Curry shot while on assignment in Sudan and Chad from 2006 to 2009 will be displayed, as will 10 more from Antoine Sanfuentes, NBC’s Washington, D.C., deputy bureau chief, who accompanied Curry on two of the trips.

“I’ve been interested in still photography all my life, but I think that I did not take it up in earnest until the night I left for my first trip to the Darfur region,— Curry said in a phone interview earlier this week.

The TV luminary said that she didn’t want members of her team to feel unsafe in certain areas of the world. Rather than insist that they accompany her, she decided she wanted to have the skills to fill the gap.

Since that first trip in March 2006, Curry’s photography has appeared on various NBC platforms, but this is the first exhibit of her work. It’s fitting that the exhibit will show a humanitarian crisis abroad, as that has become one of the reporter’s specialties.

It was Curry’s earlier experiences covering the war in Kosovo that led to her interest in Darfur at a time when the genocide was less well-known. Curry said she could “not prevent myself from fighting for this story.—

“We think about stories about Darfur as being so far away,— Curry said, “but in many ways they aren’t so far away.—

Curry said people told her she was really brave to take on a story that the general public hadn’t taken an interest in, so she was surprised when her executive producer said ratings for the morning show rose when her Darfur-related segments aired. She has been back to the region three times since that first trip, most recently in February.

The images in the show come from each of those trips. Many are black and white and they often feature children. One focuses on a young boy who made eye contact with the photographer as he kneels in the middle of a circle of his friends. In her description of the photo, Curry wrote, “Darfurian boy in a refugee camp in Chad, who fell to his knees upon seeing this reporter.—

Curry hopes the show will raise awareness of the genocide in the east African country. Accordingly, the WSP has invited all kinds of policymakers and interest groups to the opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday.

The WSP hosts a new exhibit every month in its 3,000-square-foot downstairs gallery in connection with the Bethesda Art Walk, in which galleries and studios open their doors to the public on a Friday evening. In June the school will host “Introspective II,— challenging artists to express their intimate feelings; in July it will be “The Clean Hands Project,— a photojournalistic project from the poor in Nepal; and in August an exhibit called simply “3-D— will feature anaglyph photography to be viewed with three-dimensional glasses.