Jane Baldwin's recent body of work Kara Women Speak distills ten years of travel to Ethiopia's Omo River Valley to photograph and record stories from the women of indigenous communities living in the region. She initially traveled to the Omo River Valley as a photographer. Her advocacy for the environmental and human rights concerns developed slowly and are based on her lived experiences in the field.
These experiences became an entry into issues and fate of the communities of Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley and Kenya’s Lake Turkana watershed. The project has become an overlay of women’s stories told through photography, video, ambient sounds, and recorded interviews. Baldwin’s goal has been to give ‘voice to the voiceless’, and to support the rights of the indigenous peoples of this region who are affected by the disastrous environmental and socioeconomic impacts resulting from the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Omo River, known as Gibe III.
At the core of this advocacy, is Jane’s Kara Women Speak, a project that represents over ten years of fieldwork (2005-2014) documenting the women in their own voices capturing the stories of the humanitarian and environmental issues—issues which threaten all the communities of the Omo River watershed; revealing the humanity of the women and their communities, whose stories might otherwise disappear.
I believe art can inform and focus our attention in powerful and insightful ways. Through engagement and conversation, art can inspire empathy and evoke our humanity by raising awareness of political issues, and be
a catalyst for change.
— Jane Baldwin