Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

War on display at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center

Photos Courtesy of Stephen Humphreys

From Aug. 4 to Sept. 15, the University of Alabama Gallery presented “Broken Bridges,” a showcase of documentary photography by Stephen Humphreys at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. Twenty untitled photographs are displayed and they depict still moments that present the devastation and destruction in Ukraine.  

The Russia-Ukraine war officially began in 2014 over the disputed control of the Crimean Peninsula. More recently, in late February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine, launching the conflict onto the world stage.  

Humphreys had not been to Ukraine before the Russian invasion but has since traveled there 10 times, using photography to document the physical toll the war has taken on Ukrainian families and infrastructure.  

“The title, ‘Broken Bridges,’ is obviously a reference to the physical toll,” Daniel White, the director of the UA Gallery, said. “But also, we included the people in the show to show the emotion toll, the burden put on families. [In] politics and war, people are always collateral damage.” 

White said he was interested in this show because of the “relevance and timely subject matter,” but it is an unusual showing for a university gallery. White offered a disclaimer that this showcase is not an involvement nor firm standing on any side of the political divide. While international war is inherently political, these pictures serve as factual documents only the telling of an ongoing conflict. 

Humphreys’ photography takes place in active war zones and beyond the front lines, where people try to return to normal life. One of the photos on display is of a father and son sitting together on a bunk bed that takes place, according to Humphreys, at a halfway house in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. 

“I want them to see the extremity of the destruction and brokenness,” Humphreys said. “I want them to feel the humanity of the Ukrainian people. Try to imagine you, your friends, your family living in that situation shelled by Russian artillery or [facing] a missile attack at night.”  

Humphreys’ current work, along with photography, revolve around the creation of documentary films, investigating war crimes with the Ukrainian military and other Ukrainian authorities. His work in Ukraine as a filmmaker, photographer and featured opinion writer on is his way of advocating. 

“One way or another, [I’m] telling the story of Ukraine by the photographs, by the films, telling the story in a court of law either criminal or civil and teaching in their universities,” Humphreys said. 

He hopes that this exhibition will aid in reigniting American sentiment in support of Ukraine. 

Violence and destruction are so frequent that Humphreys said it became “mundane and you become used to it.” He felt strange not hearing the sound of artillery going off nearby.  

Out of the many pictures Humphreys took while he was in Ukraine, 20 were chosen for display, all of them unlabeled and with no attached description. 

“They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and in this show that is true,” White said.  

Currently, Humphreys is an attorney and adjunct law and history professor at the State University of Irpin and Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, both located in Ukraine. Other photos he took from Ukraine were displayed at the University of Alabama in Huntsville Salmon Library Gallery 

Exhibitions on display at UA art galleries are free to see. For more information on future UA Gallery events, visit the art department’s website 

More to Discover