With all the attention being paid to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his imminent visit, one might consider looking anew at the country from which he fled with his family 50 years ago.
His Holiness, though he lives in Dharmsala, India, is still in fact the spiritual leader of Tibet. He, unlike others, has not been permitted to return by the Chinese who have occupied Tibet since 1949.
Among those who have recently visited Tibet, are Ketchum residents Gina Poole, Kim Jacobs and Barbi Reed and Hailey resident Gordon Williams. Together they are presenting photographs at the Coffee Grinder & Gallery in Ketchum in a show called "Images of Tibet."
The exhibition is 5:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 25. All proceeds from the sale of the photographs will benefit the One H.E.A.R.T. Foundation.
Founded by Arlene Samen, a nurse practitioner, One H.E.A.R.T. is based in Salt Lake City, and Lhasa. The organizations's mission is to work with Tibetans to improve maternal and newborn survival on the Tibetan Plateau. Most of these deaths are preventable with minimal technology, awareness-raising and simple community-based interventions.
Poole was encouraged to do something with her photographs from a trip to Tibet by her cinematographer husband, Bob Poole.
"Photography is definitely a hobby for me. We travel quite a bit, and when we went to Kenya five years ago, I got more interested in it," Poole said. "One H.E.A.R.T. is such an amazing group of people. They're getting right to the source, helping people and seeing results. I thought I'd show the photos in a group exhibit of people who've been there, and then donate the proceeds to One H.E.A.R.T."
This past spring in Shanghai, Poole met up with Ketchum resident Wei Fen Zhou, Chinese antiques dealer who also leads specialized tours to China. She'd finished her tour and together they flew to western China and proceeded overland into Tibet.
They spent nine days driving on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road on the way to Lhasa, where Tibetans used to trade horses to the Chinese for tea. The road crosses the Qinghai-Tibet Plateaus, a region that was just recently opened up to foreigners. They then spent a week in Lhasa.
"I took mainly photos of people, pilgrims on their way to Lhasa," she said. They were often doing prostrations. Some of the families had been on the road for two years. They'd stop during the cold weather and then pick up and keep moving with just a wheeled cart. The people were so kind, and on another plane. There was a calmness, no material goods at all."
Barbi Reed traveled to Tibet with Samen to photograph One H.E.A.R.T.'s activities. Her photographs have been shown at her gallery, Anne Reed Gallery, in Ketchum, and can be seen on One H.E.A.R.T.'s Web site, onehearttibet.org.