Saira Khan-Hendrix Joins Garden Book ProjectPosted: September 25, 2012
As a part of our research and creation of the Garden Book, we’re very excited to announce Russellville resident Saira Khan-Hendrix has joined the project as a photographer. She’ll be working with us to document gardeners in their gardens, capturing images of the relationship between the gardeners and the land.
Saira is adjunct literature professor at Arkansas Tech University and a wonderful photographer with a deep interest in capturing the lives of everyday people in their surroundings. In recent months she’s been focusing on documenting the stories of Arkansas women in the central Arkansas area. I asked her to write up a few words about her work at intersection of story and photography, especially her recent work in documenting the faces of Arkansas women under the project name, Aria Kae. Here’s what she had to say:
I am student of the story. I have spent most of my life staring at page after page of whatever book I could get in my hands. When I wasn’t reading a story I was making one up and sharing with the kids on the bus home from school. I shared and listened at the dinner table during our story swap hour. As I got older, especially in college, I started viewing people as walking storybooks. Everyone had a unique perspective and a completely personal experience with life. I embraced friendships as an opportunity to learn more about others and myself.
When I fell in love with photography I fell hard. I believed with each click of my camera I was capturing a story in the making. My subjects were telling me about insecurities, their triumphs, their truth through their eyes and their body language. And with each smile that stretched across someone’s face I took note of the way their eyes crinkled and their composure changed. No longer was this person unsure of herself, but she was laughing as hard as I was at nothing in particular, just enjoying a revealing moment of utter joy.
Sometime in my journey as a photographer I realized that women have it so hard. They spend their lives living up a standard, to expectations of how they should be. I understand men also struggle to live up to an image as well, but perhaps as a woman I better see what it must be like for other women. I spent the start of 2012 with an agenda to be a voice for women. Through our meeting we would talk woman to woman and spend a thirty minute session embracing the beauty that resonates within each person, each woman. Because I believe this beauty is not something worth emulating or replicating, but that it’s as much a part of a person as the skin on her bones. It’s real. It’s whole. And it’s up to me to present the product of self-realization: no one is unworthy of being photographed because everyone is a one of a kind sensational moment in history.
Here are just a few of Saira’s shots.