Originally published “Human rights organizations often depend on the media’s megaphone, calling malefactors to account by publicizing their misdeeds. So it’s something of a paradox that Berkeley’s most influential and visionary NGO dedicated to the international struggle for human rights, the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, tends to operate under the radar. In marking the center’s 20th anniversary, the HRC is presenting an alternately breathtaking and hair-raising photo exhibition, Envisioning Human Rights, part of a new effort to raise public awareness about the organization’s vital work.
Opening Thursday Aug. 28 with a reception in Boalt Hall’s Steinhart Courtyard and running through October, the exhibition features the work of 10 remarkable photographers, including Gilles Peress, Susan Meiselas, Sebastião Salgado, Ken Light, Mimi Chakarova, and Jean-Marie Simon (several of whom will be present at the reception). The center itself is located off campus at Telegraph and Oregon, but the exhibition fills a gallery space in the lobby of the old Law Library on the second floor of Boalt Hall, appropriately adjacent to four extremely disquieting canvases in Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib series. While it’s intended to introduce the center’s work to the community, the exhibition is also raising the HRC’s profile within Boalt itself.
“I run around the law school all the time and meet people who aren’t aware we’re here,” says Alexa Koenig, who took over as executive director of the HRC in 2012 from Camille Crittenden. The center’s founder Eric Stover serves as faculty director and adjunct professor of Law and Public Health. “We partner with groups like Human Rights Watch, but don’t have the kind of platform. We tend to be so focused on the work and service we’re not thinking about outreach. The 20thanniversary celebration is our chance to acknowledge that there have been dozens of students and faculty involved with our work.””
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