SARA PETTINELLA - ARTIST STATEMENT

Portraits have always represented a challenge for me. They scared me. I guess one of the reasons why I initially approached photography was my desire to win that fear, to come out of my shell and deeply open myself to others. To start to really listening and learning to empathize.

Working for years in refugee camps was a strong experience. I could not avoid to measure myself with portraits. I had no excuses. So many faces, eyes, voices. The fear gradually, but quickly, disappeared. And I saw the beauty of humans, especially in those places unfortunately still affected by injustice, violence and... yes, fear.

I saw the strength of the young Colombian brother and sister living in the shantytown of La Souacha; the courage of the young Colombian refugee who has a turkey as a pet and lives in a makeshift hut in El Nula, Venenzuela; the pride and hope of a disabled Bhutanese refugee and his brother and nephew in a camp in Nepal; the nobility of a little girl in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, who gave me one rupee to honor the fact that we had just become friends; I saw the pain and the energy of B. a young woman in London who told me her difficult personal story and all the efforts that she had to make to keep herself alive by showing me her journals.

I was lucky enough to see all this truth, all this beauty. I hope I was able to express my admiration and respect through my portraits. I learnt that making that further step that brings you close enough to those eyes and noses and mouths, is the easiest part, because each portrait has a different approach and development; that's the real a continuous challenge.

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