ABILENE, Texas - A glimpse into Afghanistan's capital Kabul during the war can be found in Abilene.
Photographs taken by students who live in Afghanistan and studied under Bill Wright, a renowned Texas photographer, are now on display in the Darkness to Light exhibit in the Ira M. Taylor gallery at Hardin-Simmons University.
Wright taught the class in 2006 and said he wanted his 13 students, aged 12 to 26, to show Americans what everyday life in Afghanistan is like.
"Many of them said ‘we want America to know we appreciate what you're doing to try and help Afghanistan," Wright said. "Half of my class were young women and had [the government] been under the Taliban, they wouldn't have been there."
Photography also gave his students a way to put food on the table for their struggling families.
"Otherwise, their families are going to starve to death," Wright said. "Most of them came from families where there was either just a single parent and younger kids at home and/or disabled parents ... That just rips your heart out to see a kid like that whose responsible for the life of his family."
HSU Gallery Director and Photography Professor Carrie Jones said she hopes visitors to the gallery also learn a lesson from the photographs, such as "a sense of gratitude for what they have and also a hunger and a desire to get out of the bubble and to go see the rest of the world."
The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and the exhibit will be on display until Sept. 20. A closing reception will be held 5 to 6:30 p.m.
An eBook with the artwork will be available on Amazon.com next week and will be titled A Bridge from Darkness to Light and will be priced under $10. Wright said he chose not to name his students in the eBook to protect their identities from the Taliban. Proceeds from the first year of sales will go directly to the Aschiana non-profit that helped Wright obtain camera equipment for the students in Afghanistan.