Visual Art

Global Lens

Mark Aumann exhibits photos of Vietnam

Megan Ault |

Life is quite frankly very busy and complicated for many people. As a result, it is easy for people to get caught up in the drama of their own lives and to forget to reach out to different types of people and cultures. On the other hand, there are those that take the time to slow down enough to consider others.

Mark Aumann has incorporated his passion for photography and other cultures and languages to help educate people about what is going on in the world beyond our borders.

As a 1982 graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with degrees in French and political science, his interest in the world is only natural. When studying abroad in southern France, Aumann’s interest in art and photography was firmly rooted. He explained that in France “you can’t help but be affected visually and artistically by what you see.”

After completing his master’s degree in French, Aumann lived in Nicaragua during the late 1980s to the early 1990s. While there, he had the opportunity to work as a photographer for a Nicaraguan newspaper and work with Witness for Peace, a human rights group working to change U.S. policy in Latin America. He said that his work in Nicaragua opened his eyes to the world around him. It was this sense of global awareness that he wanted to bring back home with him through his photography.

    While his wife was teaching in Vietnam, Aumann took the opportunity to tag along on three separate trips. Having gone digital just prior to his first trip, Aumann decided that he wanted to take himself more seriously as a photographer.

The result is a photo exhibit that is currently on display at Acoustic Café. The exhibit features many portraits of the people of Vietnam, with a focus on the eyes that he says captures his imagination. He hopes that his pictures will show the dignity of the people of Vietnam and convey the winds of change that are blowing through the country as it is opening up to the Western influences.

The exhibit is scheduled to appear next summer at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. His hope for the exhibit is that his images will be able to be used to educate people about some of the places that he has had the good fortune to visit and to “put a human face on faraway places and help connect people to those places at a human level.”

Aumann’s photography acts as a reminder to those who get caught up in their lives that there is a bigger world out there to pay attention to. His photography, as he put it, strives to “make a connection that what we do here in the U.S. can have profound effects on the rest of the world.”

    Mark Aumann: Photography of Vietnam. Through Sept. 30 at the Acoustic Café in Eau Claire. 7:30am-10pm Sunday-Thursday, 7:30am-11pm Friday-Saturday. FREE. 832-9090.