Larry Louie Statement

Artist Statement
Tibetans: The Struggle for Cultural Preservation

I am constantly amazed by the ethnic and cultural diversity I see in our world on my travels: from our gender to our skin colors to our race and our religion, and the differences in our languages, beliefs, and customs. Increasingly, I feel an urgency to document people in areas of the world threatened by urbanization and globalization – places where traditional ways of life, ancient knowledge and customs, languages and identities are disappearing at an alarming rate. People often talk about endangered species and the loss of biodiversity in nature. Some are beginning to notice the threat to the diversity of cultures. The changes brought on by rapid industrialization and urbanization affect not only animal and plant species – societies that have been around for thousands of years are also at risk.

I have always felt a special connection with the people of Tibet, but over the past few years, I feel an increasingly urgency to document these people as their traditional ways of life, ancient knowledge and customs, languages and identities are threatened by the rapid modernization of China. Confronted with economic, political and social pressures from the communist Chinese government and the rapid industrialization of their traditional homeland, Tibetans and their cultural identity are facing enormous pressures from all around. As new roads and new towns are being built into the tradition Tibetan mountains and grasslands, many Tibetans, facing the rapid changes, are also confronted with the challenges of being caught between the past and the present, and many more will face the social issues of being touched and left behind by modern day China as they struggle to preserve their cultural identity.

I document cultures that are threatened by modernization and globalization, cultures facing rapid change and even maybe extinction in our lifetime. I document the social issues and explore the challenges of that arise where people’s lives are caught between the past and present, where modern society has touched but left behind. But the underlying basis of my photography is to foster inter-cultural understanding and tolerance as a means of promoting friendship and peace around us. There must be a way of peaceful co-existence between people of different race, cultures and value systems. I think when people begin to understand and respect their differences, to recognize cultural diversity and to see differences where they exists and accepting these differences without judgment, they will eventually realize that, although they may differ in customs, traditions and value systems, they share the same hopes and dreams for the future. Learning to understand and celebrate diversity is the most important step towards developing cultural tolerance and fostering peace and cooperation.

Process Statement
All prints are digital archival prints.

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