Written by

On Oct. 2, the Sheehan Gallery hosted a surprise artist talk with photographer and humanitarian Safidy Andrian.

Andrian is a self-taught photographer from Madagascar. As a youth, Andrian was inspired by his mother to devote himself to his studies, and he received a scholarship to go to school in France, where he earned a degree in engineering.

Andrian became disillusioned with engineering once he discovered his job responsibilities included making weapons. Andrian quit his job and went to New York City to study English. While there, he used his engineering skills to create a program to take aerial photographs for a mapping project.

When he returned to Madagascar, Andrian decided to dedicate himself to the art of photography. His career got a jumpstart when a series of photographs of trash littering the streets during a political conflict was picked up by a popular Malagasy magazine.

His work as a photographer led to his work as a humanitarian. Recently, Andrian launched a school in a rough neighborhood in Madagascar that is comprised of volunteer teachers and gives children the opportunity to receive an education.

Andrian's exhibit in the Sheehan Gallery is his first formal exhibition. His photos are one component of "Requiem for a Rainforest: CPALI and Friends" and will be displayed in the Sheehan Gallery for the rest of the semester.

Cay Craig, guest curator for the Sheehan Gallery, paid to bring Andrian to Whitman for the lecture.

"Andrian strikes me as a remarkable individual for several reasons. He came into photography with no formal training and works in film, not digital processes, with very limited equipment. He talks about learning how to develop film on his own, without a real darkroom, working with chemicals in his various hotel room residences," said Daniel Forbes, director of the Sheehan Gallery.

"In addition to this, he has an extraordinary eye and his integrity in the way that he depicts his subjects is moving. His documentation of the individuals on the streets of Madagascar and in the CPALI program is not exploitative but generates emotion through beauty. The way he multi-layers his photographs and pairs images creates rich imagery both visually and in content."

Learn more about the Sheehan Gallery exhibit.