(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Nov. 8, 2012) A California Lutheran University history professor who has been photographing India for more than four decades will share his most recent photos in an upcoming exhibit.
“The Earth Where You Stand,” featuring photographs of India taken by Paul Hanson while he was on sabbatical in spring, will run from Saturday, Dec. 1, through Saturday, Jan. 26, in CLU’s Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture. An opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
While Hanson has noticed the phenomenal changes resulting from India’s rapid rise as an economic power in the last decade in the largest cities and their satellite hubs, he has found that the impact is more marginal on the majority who live in rural areas. Daily life for most is not much different than when he first went to India. Women and children carry water from wells and rivers, dried dung cakes remain a primary cooking and heating fuel, people shop from street vendors in open markets, and religious festivals and rituals are the high points of yearly calendars.
“It is a hard life but the character and beauty of the people who must survive does, I hope, come through in the photographs,” the Moorpark resident said. “We lead very different lives but share a common humanity.”
Most of the photographs in the exhibit were taken in central and western India in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Hanson first went to India as a Fulbright Fellow. On the way, he bought his first camera, which led to a lifelong interest in photography. Teaching at a college and traveling around the country that year convinced him he could spend the rest of his life learning about the fascinating place. He has since traveled to more than 40 countries but always returns to India, which he considers to be the most visually stunning country in the world due to the diversity of the land and its people.
“Not only is India the most photogenic country in the world, but most of its people are also quite camera-friendly when approached with the proper respect,” he said.
Hanson, who has a doctorate in South Asian and Middle Eastern history, joined the CLU faculty in 1978. A recipient of the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence, he is known for his extensive use of images from his travels in his classes. Twice a Fulbright Scholar to India, he has researched Islamic history in South Asia, especially the relationship of religion and political legitimacy under the Mughal dynasty. He was a founding board member of the South Asian Studies Association.
Admission to the exhibit and reception is free. The Kwan Fong Gallery is located in Soiland Humanities Center on the south side of Memorial Parkway near Regent Avenue. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call Michael Pearce at 805-444-7716 or visit www.callutheran.edu/kwan_fong.