Images Courtesy of Book Club
When New York City-based photographer Peter Sutherland made a wish to travel to Nepal, he never thought that a week later he’d get the opportunity through a friendly Facebook message from Maia Ruth Lee. Lee, one of the Korean artists behind Chillzine, grew up in Nepal and first encountered Sutherland’s photography in 2008. When Facebook brought up a connection through a mutual friend, she thought, “Hey, it’s that guy” and messaged him. “If you ever come to Nepal, give me a shout.”
With a trip to Asia already in the works for Sutherland, the two took the opportunity to collaborate on a creative workshop in Nepal. “I wanted something where kids could interact with other kids from the same country, of completely different environments” explains Lee. Their plans became a four-day photo workshop for deaf students and rescued street children all between the ages of 14 and 20. Hosted at a home for street children outside of Kathmandu, the two artists guided a group of 10 students through sign language lessons, art making and photography workshops.
“Within five minutes [of arriving] the kids saw a poisonous snake, bashed it with a shovel, and threw it out in a field,” recounts Sutherland on his Viceland blog. “I knew it would be an interesting four days!”
Days were divided by subjects including documentary photography, portraiture, landscapes and fashion with an introductory slideshow of Sutherland’s favorite images narrated by a brief discussion about “why he liked the photos and what he thought was good about them.” An outing to a Kathmandu amusement park produced some of Lee’s favorite images: The students carried their cameras everywhere for four days and shot intimately in dorm rooms, in villages and during nature hikes. Each day ended with a one-on-one session with Sutherland to review that day’s images.
These student selects contributed 80 percent of the final images for the book Signs and Voices, a compilation of photographs the students took during their four-day creative workshop. The first imprint from Book Club, the publishing arm of fellow artist Peter Chung aka Cool Calm Pete, Signs is a beautiful collection of images but more importantly, a testament to the magic of collaboration and wishful thinking.
All proceeds of the sale of Signs and Voices, available at Dashwood Books and Creatures of Comfort, will go to funding future workshops.