There is no doubt that it has been a difficult year. A global pandemic, political divide, social unrest, wildfires and more have flooded people’s lives. Now, a local exhibit created by a professor at UC Merced seeks to give people a glimpse of these difficult times as they are experienced in Merced, in the hopes that it will influence the public to stop – at least for a moment – to breathe and admire the beauty all around.

Professor of Arts, Media and World Writing Studies Yehuda Sharim exhibition “Portraits of the central valley”, presented by the Merced County Arts Council, will be on display at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center from August 4 to October 3. The photographic and multimedia installation reflects everyday life in Merced’s changing urban complexes – everything from sweeping views of the sky with flocks of birds, conversations with nurses struggling to cope with daily deaths from COVID-19, to intimate representations of meeting strangers who have become friends.

Since this is a multimedia exhibit, attendees can expect to see, hear and read a variety of messages. The in-person exhibition consists of over 60 photographs and two video installations, including Sharim’s short film “Red Line Lullaby”, which is shown simultaneously in Greece and Italy, and was the subject of a recent interview. Video interviews with frontline health workers in Merced are also included to describe what they faced during the pandemic.

“This country has suffered many deaths from COVID-19, and we are not talking about mourning,” Sharim said. “What does it mean to mourn? Can we connect with our pain? What does it do to us if we can’t connect to this pain? “

Sharim said everyone is welcome to visit the exhibit as it is suitable for all ages.

“I would like us to all sit around this table and watch and listen,” he said. “It’s a space where all communities can come together. We are there together. “

A motel is seen in Merced.A opening reception will take place at 6 p.m. on August 4 and a artist speech with Sharim is scheduled for 7 p.m. on September 9. A screening of his documentary “Songs That Never End” and a question-and-answer session will take place at 7:00 pm on September 23. The events are free and open to the public.

The Merced Multicultural Arts Center is located at 645 W. Main St. Additional details on events and exhibits can be found online.

Sharim continues to work on several projects outside of this exhibition, including a new short film titled “Letters2Maybe. “The trailer can be viewed at Youtube. For more information on Sharim’s work or to contact him, people can visit his website.

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