Harry Ransom Center Celebrates National Photography Month

May 1, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin celebrates National Photography Month with the recently opened photography exhibition "Inside El Salvador."

Running through Aug. 3, "Inside El Salvador" features black-and-white photographs that depict those involved in the country's 12-year civil war, including the guerrillas and the U.S.-aided army, and the effects of the war on the civilian population.

After bomb explosion near cathedral, people try to escape being trampled, March 30, 1980. Photo: Harry Mattison

The images—from peaceful moments of civilian daily life to scenes of mass murder—provide an enduring historical and human rights record of those times.

"Photography is invaluable in the defense against history being rewritten for political ends," said Ransom Curator of Photography David Coleman. "Telling and retelling stories such as El Salvador's civil war is crucially important. Photography lends that narrative a forceful resonance that is effective regardless of spoken language."

A group of more than 30 internationally known photojournalists on assignment in El Salvador in the 1980s for Life, Newsweek, The New York Times, Paris Match, Stern, Time and U.S. News and World Report captured images of victims of death squads and massacres, the unearthing of unmarked graves, more than 200,000 mourners at the funeral mass of slain Archbishop Romero, students murdered by security forces and the army on a "search and destroy" operation.

"'Inside El Salvador' is a dramatic and poignant example of photography serving as a witness," said Coleman. "Many of the images reiterate the evidentiary value of photography, often in an unforgettable way."

The photographs from "Inside El Salvador" are drawn from the Ransom Center's collections and were acquired through a donation of the prints by the photographers and the generosity of the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation. Information about the exhibition, including multimedia features, can be found online.

The Ransom Center's photography collection spans from the First Photograph to contemporary works, ranging in approach from creative photography to documentary photography and photojournalism.

"Inside El Salvador" can be seen in the Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours to 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.

For more information, contact: Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512 471 8949.