An exhibition of Lucas Keirs black-and-white photographs taken in West Africa in the ‘60s is on display at the Northeast Harbor Library from Oct. 1-30. PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEAST HARBOR LIBRARY

West Africa subject of library’s October exhibit 

NORTHEAST HARBOR — From Oct. 1-30, the Northeast Harbor Library will be showing photographs of West Africa taken by Lucas Kiers in 1968-69. The black-and-white images show people at home, in their villages and fields, in busy markets and urban streets in Togo, Benin and Nigeria, and farther north in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.  

Kiers’ photos are not travelogue pictures, nor are they intentionally documentary; they brim with the photographer’s affection and respect for his subjects and are characterized by the visual intimacy that comes with never using a telephoto lens. The exhibition is enhanced by a display of West African tie-dye fabrics collected at the time.  

Kiers’ work is in the permanent collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He has had solo shows at the De Young Museum and the James Willis gallery in San Francisco and the Silverstein Gallery in New York City. His West African photos were the subject of a one-man show at the San Francisco African-American Historical Society. “Looking for a picture to take,” Kiers says, “can actually distract you from your surroundings.” In his work, he remains alert for the coincidence of moment and intuition when the picture seems to “take” him. 

This exhibition was coordinated by Mount Desert resident Philip Heckscher who recently published a travel memoir, “TOGO Being Human,” recounting his own West African experiences in the late ‘60s and illustrated with many of Kiers’ photographs. There will be copies for sale at the library when they become available. 

The exhibit can be viewed 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, contact the library at (207) 276-3333 or email [email protected].  

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