Living

Boise refugees’ lives documented by local photographer

Angie Smith photographs Boise's refugees

For a year, photographer Angie Smith has been making portraits of refugees in Boise with a grant from the Department of Arts and History. The project, called Stronger Shines the Light Inside, started as an effort to help ease the political tension
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For a year, photographer Angie Smith has been making portraits of refugees in Boise with a grant from the Department of Arts and History. The project, called Stronger Shines the Light Inside, started as an effort to help ease the political tension

A year ago, photographer Angie Smith received a $10,000 grant from the City of Boise Department of Arts and History to take portraits of refugees in Boise in an effort to help ease the political tension around resettlement. As she got to know her subjects, she was struck by the power of their stories and expanded her project.

“These are people who have spent most of their lives searching for safety,” she says, “And in Boise, they’ve been able to transform a life of struggle into a chance to thrive.”

A public exhibition will be installed in September. The project is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funding to complete the work. A portion of the funding will be used to photograph refugees in other resettlement cities in the U.S.

“Most people don’t know where refugees came from, the hardships they’ve experienced, what it’s like rebuilding their lives in America — or the economic contribution they make to a community,” Smith says. “I want people to understand this because when they do they will probably be more compassionate and welcoming.”

And, she adds, “When we explore these powerful stories, we realize this strength is in all of us. By celebrating it, we celebrate ourselves — and it can strengthen our society as a whole.”

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