Women's Work on Display at Photo Center Northwest

The First Hill gallery showcases women photographers from Iran, India and Afghanistan.

Many of us experienced a thrill when the first Mars photos from the Curiosity rover began rolling in last summer. Something about finally seeing that arid ground up close and panoramic brought all our previous pondering about the red planet into extreme focus. A similar shift in perspective may occur with Photo Center Northwest’s new exhibit, Social Order: Women Photographers from Iran, India and Afghanistan.

Featuring the work of five contemporary artists, the show offers a fresh look at women’s roles in Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures—and the way traditions affect modern life, and vice versa. Iran’s Shadi Ghadirian poses friends in traditional garb while holding mundane items. Gazelle Samizay, from Afghanistan, depicts a bridal custom that is both beautiful and suffocating. Annu Palakunnathu Matthew pairs 19th-century portraits of “American Indians” with similarly staged shots of herself as an “Indian American.” And India’s Manjari Sharma painstakingly re-creates traditional images of Hindu gods and transforms them into vibrant, giant-scale prints. Suddenly something that seemed far, far away feels so close you can almost touch it.

10/26–12/15. Times vary. Free. Photo Center Northwest, 900 12th Ave.; 206.720.7222; pcnw.org