Apr 2 - May 19, 2024


Newport Performing Arts Center

777 W. Olive Street, Newport, OR 97365

Olive Street Gallery

777 West Olive Street, Newport, OR, USA

Afghanistan Before the Wars
Mark Svendsen

April 2 – May 19, 2024
Olive Street Gallery, Newport
(777 W Olive St)
Gallery open Tues-Fri, 10am-5pm

Opening Reception: 
April 17, 2024 from 5:30 – 7:00pm

Afghanistan has not always been a battleground. Unfortunately, all that most Americans know of this country has been gained from news stories, photographs, and video segments from a period dominated by violence, destruction, and destitution. The other Afghanistan, the one that existed before the wars, comprised a beautiful and austere land of high snow-covered mountains, tumbling mountain streams, emerald-green fields of irrigated wheat and rice, and arid deserts.

This exhibit features photographs of this earlier Afghanistan and its people, drawing from a collection of pictures taken between 1968 and 1973 featuring children, tradesmen, markets, nomads, artisans, and teahouse life. The exhibit serves to acquaint viewers with the native beauty of Afghanistan and the universal humanity of its people and to impart a sense of what life there was like when the country was at peace, a half-century ago.

Mark Svendsen retired from a fifty-year career in international agricultural development in 2021, working in more than 35 developing countries for the World Bank and a variety of other international development agencies. Although having taken pictures for more than 50 years, he has, during the past five years, engaged in a more focused development of his photographic and post-processing skills. He is a member of Yaquina Arts Association Photographers (YAAP) in Newport, where he serves as President.  Scores of his images have won local club recognition and advanced to regional competitions hosted by the Columbia Council of Camera Clubs (CCCC) where he has received a number of Award of Merit and Honorable Mention citations. He has also received awards from Nature Photographers of the Pacific Northwest (NPPNW) in their annual competitions.

Dr. Svendsen began his international career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan after receiving his B.A. in physics in 1968, teaching high school mathematics and science. He returned to Afghanistan for a second assignment in 1971 in a food-for-work program, a response to a drought-induced famine, and remained for an additional year as a Peace Corps staff member. It was during these two period of residence in Afghanistan that the pictures in the show were taken. After his return to the United States, he went on to earn a master’s degree in water resource systems engineering from Colorado State University and a doctorate in international water resource management from Cornell University.

Svendsen’s recent photography has focused on landscapes and wildlife in addition to serving as a photographer for Theatre West in Lincoln City.  Over the past several years, he has participated in a wintertime photoshoot in Yellowstone and a spring shoot in the Florida everglades. A return to Yellowstone and Grand Teton is planned for fall 2025. He resides in Philomath and Newport with his extraordinary spouse of 48 years and a pair of good dogs.

Newport Performing Arts Center

777 W. Olive Street, Newport, OR 97365 - Get Directions

Olive Street Gallery

777 West Olive Street, Newport, OR, USA - Get Directions