SAN BERNARDINO – Hunger is on display in the California Room at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts. As part of an ongoing effort to fight hunger in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, Second Harvest Food Bank has partnered with San Antonio-based photographer Michael Nye, who is presenting an exhibit titled “About Hunger and Resilience,” which tells the stories of ordinary people who have battled hunger. “It might be, in my opinion, the most relevant depiction of hunger, in art form, in the United States,” said Tracylyn Sharrit, director of marketing for Second Harvest. Second Harvest now distributes food to 300,000 residents, a 40percent increase in assistance in the last couple of years, Sharrit said. In some rural areas of the region, the increase has topped 300percent.
Sharrit said hunger is no longer a problem only among the homeless or those who simply choose not to work.
She hopes the photo exhibit will help people see the changing face of hunger, which has hit the middle class hard because of rampant unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction, physical injuries and other causes.
“About Hunger and Resilience”
What: A photo exhibit of ordinary people who have battled hunger.
Where: California Room, California Theatre of the Performing Arts, 562 W. Fourth St., San Bernardino
When: Saturday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“The neighbor next door is hungry,” she said. “Your children are going to school with children who are hungry.”
Nye’s exhibit features 30 black-and-white portraits of those who are either in the throes of hunger or who have survived it.
Each person has gone without food for at least two or three days, some longer.
Audio stories about five minutes long accompany the photos, so visitors can learn more about the people Nye features in his project.
Nye met with each person for a couple days and edited their interviews with permission.
“I think when you hear these stories, you connect with them in a way, instead of just reading (their stories),” Nye said Thursday during a phone interview.
Nye, who practiced law for 10 years before taking up photography full time, worked on the project for four and a half years.
It grew out of a previous project on mental health issues, during which Nye said he learned that many who suffer with mental problems also experience hunger.
“So I began to think about hunger in a deeper way,” Nye said.
He said hunger in many ways is an invisible problem.
“People would ask, `What project are you working on?’ and I would say hunger,” Nye said. “They would say, `In what country?”‘
Among the many lessons he learned during the project, Nye said he discovered the kindness and dignity of people who survive on next to nothing.
They still want their lives to have meaning, he said.
He hopes the exhibit will help people reflect on hunger in America and the value of food banks.
“It’s just telling people to think a little deeper,” Nye said. “I think everyone will come away with something.”
The exhibit is booked through 2012 in cities across the nation.
To learn about Second Harvest or to make a donation, call 951-359-4757.
Now you can see the face of some of the working homeless.——-Paul Schrader