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KimoPics Studio and Gallery presents the ‘Faces of Vietnam’ exhibit

By Staff | Oct 19, 2018

Marge Bennett, of Michigan, checks out some of Vietnam veteran Kimo Williams' photography during the "Faces of Vietnam" opening night at KimoPics Studio and Gallery on Friday. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Kimo Williams, of Shepherdstown, opened his photography studio and gallery in August 2018 at 133 West German Street.

On Friday, Williams’ gallery, KimoPics, hosted an opening night for its new exhibit, “Faces of Vietnam,” which will run until Nov. 25.

“In 1970 as an Army Combat Engineer serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, I began my fascination with capturing images that reflect my life experiences and observations After Vietnam I looked inward and began what became a life-long journey of self-discovery through the creative arts,” Williams said. “As a composer, I wrote symphonies to tell my stories. As a photographer, taking pictures was and is a means for me to hold visual moments in time, so I might absorb and experience them a little longer.

“While serving in Vietnam, I volunteered to put a band together and play music for the troops up at the front lines,” Williams said. “While on this tour I took my camera and captured moments of time from that experience.

“In 2003, I once again put a band together and played for the troops as part of a USO,” Williams said. “Called the Lt. Dan Band, we played throughout the US, in Korea, Singapore, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Germany, United Kingdom, Brussels and others. As with my music tour in Vietnam, I took my camera to document my many USO adventures.

“Together, photography and music now provide me with a distinct voice for self-reflection, social commentary and cultural engagement,” Williams said, referring to his new exhibit.

In 1969 as a high school senior, Williams always thought Vietnam was a third world, gloomy environment. Once there, he realized it was nothing like that at all. The country had beautiful landscapes and flowing rivers. The non-combatant Vietnamese were warm and friendly. He relished the opportunity to engage with the people and the culture. However, because of the nature of his presence there, a cultural investigation was very limited. He left Vietnam in the fall of 1970, never getting the chance to really understand the Vietnamese, or to embrace the beauty of their land.

In 1998, Williams returned to Vietnam for the first time since then, specifically to the place of his first assignment in Lai Khe. From this cathartic return, he realized what he missed as a soldier, and wanted to learn so much more about the country. He returned in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. During each trip, he had his camera with him, and captured the faces of those he encountered, which for him provided the essence of who this culture was. “Faces of Vietnam” is an exhibit of those photographs.

Additionally, Williams founded The United States Veterans Arts Program, which provides art resources to Veterans Administration Medical Facilities to help support other Veterans who may wish to tell their story through the arts. All proceeds generated by KimoPics supports USVAPs mission.

Exhibit runs until Nov. 25. Gallery Hours are Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.