PHILADELPHIA Award-winning photojournalist Joan S. Klatchko has spent the last 15 years traveling from Cambodia to Australia, from Belize to France to Uganda in a photographic journey to document cultural differences and explore similarities that connect children, cultures and countries across the world. About 100 of her photographs, plus an edited video from her most recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, come together in a new exhibition, "Connecting Cultures: Kids Across the World," running May 6 through Nov. 26 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South St. in Philadelphia.
In the exhibition, Klatchko includes real-life stories of some of the children she has photographed, linking their specific situations to broader global issues and concerns shared by all children.
"Connecting Cultures" is a celebration of the joy, optimism and courage I have witnessed, shared by kids across the world," she said. "Some live in poverty, while others enjoy many privileges, yet all kids share the same fundamental commonalities and needs."
A British and American citizen who lives in Bucks County, Pa., Klatchko has photography credits in more than 150 magazines, newspapers and books, from Time, GEO and the Independent to Marie Claire, the International Herald Tribune and Reader's Digest. The recipient of several awards, including Pennsylvania Council of the Arts awards in literature in 2002 and visual arts in 2003, Klatchko began taking photographs of children on her many world travels in the early 1990s. With her Nikon camera shooting both in slide film and digital, she documented the ever-day lives of children, with an eye to how global issues affected them.
Her interests developed into the "Kids Across the World" project that now includes a Web site, www.kidsacrosstheworld.com, and educational outreach programs to regional schools. In 2005, she began a partnership with MAGPI, Penn's Internet2 hub, creating interdisciplinary collaborative videoconference projects for K-12 students.
Visitors to the exhibition will have an opportunity to get acquainted with children like 11-year old Ian, who lives in a cave-house in the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, Australia; 15-year old Azianne, a kite-flying Muslim girl from Malaysia who believes that "Islamophobiaone of the biggest dangers of her life; and 9-year-old Krean Sok Heng of Cambodia, who speaks about, the 50 fellow orphaned children at the Sunrise Children's Village where she lives, and where she rediscovers the almost-destroyed Khmer culture through music and dance.
Included in the exhibition is a video, edited by Jim Parker, featuring Klatcho's November 2005 trip to the Galapagos Islands. This photo-story explores the conflicts among conservators concerned with maintaining the unique habitat, the traditional fishing community and the growing tourism industry, as seen through the lives of two children, a fisherman's son and the son of a cruise-ship captain.
The exhibition also features a portrait montage of children from across the world, concluding with one ever-changing portrait, a mirror so that every child may recognize his or her image as being part of "the world."