JBU Hosts 'By the Olive Trees' Exhibit by Renowned Photographer Ben Rasmussen

Exhibit Gives a Perspective on the Struggle of Syrian Refugees

SIloam Springs, Ark (April 6, 2016) - Benjamin Rasmussen’s exhibit titled By the Olive Trees, is open at the JBU Windgate Visual Arts West Gallery until May 4. Rasmussen, JBU alumnus and a renowned photographer, showcases a social photographer’s view of the struggle of Syrian refugees.

“The title of the exhibit, By the Olive Trees, comes from a quote from one of the refugees who explained why he had planted an olive tree in his backyard,” Rasmussen said. “He told me ‘We had olive trees in Syria so we’ll have an olive tree here.’ Although there’s hope of returning home, most are realistic it won’t happen soon.”

Rasmussen documents Syrian refugees who are part of the 4.8 million who fled their country in the wake of the Syrian civil war, now in its fifth year. More than 1.4 million of these refugees have headed south to neighboring Jordan with some staying in the Zaatari refugee camp.

“Art has the power to move you and this collection certainly does that,” Charles Peer, art gallery director and JBU professor, said. “Ben has captured images that tell the story of the flight and relocation of a massive number of people along with the more personal images, which touch the heart. Now you put a face with the reports we so often passively hear on the nightly news. Visually it tells a story of struggle, survival, strength and hope. I don’t believe anyone can spend time with these images and stories and not be moved.”

“Ben’s work represents the best of socially concerned photography,” Neal Holland, head of the photography department said. “His images show clearly the character that Ben has always reflected himself about world problems and social awareness, in Syria and the other demanding locations he has photographed. I really think that it was clear from the beginning that Ben had the drive and determination to succeed in such a demanding and engaging profession. ”

Rasmussen's work has appeared in Vogue, New York Times, Businessweek, ESPN and Wired. He is the winner of JBU’s 2015 Golden Eagle Young Alumni Award and in 2014, was named one of Photo District News' 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. His work has been selected for the American Photography Annuals, shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnac Award and received the 2010 Pictures of the Year International award.

The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. For further information, contact the JBU Department of Visual Arts at 479-238-8561.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Ranked No. 2 among Southern regional colleges by U.S. News, JBU enrolls more than 2,700 students from 42 states and 39 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 50 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.

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