We were recently asked to create a large-scale permanent photography collection for the gallery attached to our Portland Action Center. This image by Thatcher Cook was one of the selections. There are several in the series of this woman in Ethiopia, but this one struck me right away because of the angle of her face. Her name is Khadija Ali, 45, and she lives in the Addis Alem neighborhood of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. She was the recipient of a loan to rehabilitate her house. The house is tiny - basically just one room with a single door and window - but the pride her upturned chin and her posture display is engaging. It's as if she's saying “Yes, this is my wonderful house, take a good look ... isn’t it fantastic?” Here’s what Thatcher remembers about his time with her:
“I remember making this photo well ... after Roger (Burks) interviewed her, I went inside her home and used the window and the door as a light source. She initially faced the light and then moved her head away from the light and that’s when I snapped this frame. I had made versions of her looking towards the light, but I was struck by the partial silhouette and the green palette — a very beautiful environment indeed. (I was especially drawn to the red!)”
The colors work so well in this image. Note the soft blue-green of the shutter and hutch in the background in concert with the green of the walls and her headscarf.