Photographer Nick Ut was featured at a reception in his honor at the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography on Tuesday. The reception was sponsored by the Photography Department. Randy Miller, adjunct professor of journalism, curated the exhibition. The photos will be on display until May 10.
Nick Ut, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, came to the University of La Verne Tuesday to talk about his work and experiences.
Around 95 people came to the artist’s reception to view the historic photographs in the Irene Carlson Gallery and see Ut talk about his well-known works.
Ut’s dynamic pictures on display feature the Vietnamese people under fire from napalm and the injuries inflicted on them in the war.
“These are powerful pictures,” Charles Bentley, spokesman for the University said. “These are the photos that people of our generation remember.”
Ut has spent 42 years of his life dedicated to photography, starting his work at age 16 with the Associated Press following the death of his brother, Huyuh Thanh My.
There are rows of spellbinding pictures of Vietnam lining the walls, from photos of survivors of the My Lai Massacre pictured on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy, to pictures of children handling disabled mines.
There is also a photo displayed of a family of seven, fleeing the city of An Loc just before South Vietnam fell.
“I think this is a great opportunity to know about the man who made them… a lot of people know the images, but don’t know who took the picture,” Bentley said.
Ut had recently come back from Shanghai, and after doing two assignments earlier in the day, he came to the University, according to Randy Miller, adjunct professor of journalism and curator of the exhibit.
U.S soldiers were also shown in the gallery photos, touching down on grassy fields.
“I tried to get on the first helicopters so I could take photos of soldiers landing,” Ut said.
There was also an interview portion of the gallery viewing in which an interview session was conducted by Al Clark in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theater in which Ut spoke about his experiences.
“There was a girl, running towards me after a napalm strike,” Ut recalled.
“Her back had many bad burns; afterwards, I poured water on her back and took her in the van to get to a hospital.”
Even then, Ut had difficulties getting hospital staff to help the young girl named Kim Phuc, and he used his press badge to coerce the staff into helping the girl.
Even to this day, Ut keeps in close contact with Phuc and her family.
After taking the photo, he snapped another shot of a mother holding a badly burned child whose flesh was peeling off his body.
“In the minute after I took the picture, the child died,” Ut said.
Also present during the interview session was a large photograph of Paris Hilton crying uncontrollably in the back of a police car.
“I was a lucky guy to get that picture of Hilton,” Ut said.
The photograph of Hilton was taken 35 years to the day and almost to the hour of his famous shot of Phuc.
Also among the gallery photos was one of the famous actor, Martin Sheen, protesting the Iraq war with duct tape strapped across his mouth with the word “Peace” written on it.
Still these powerful messages of the pictures he had taken in Vietnam remain relevant today.
“War is so sad,” Ut said. “We lost so many people in Vietnam, and even today to war.”
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.ulv.edu/art/carlson.phtml or call 909-593-3511, ext. 4281.
Dan Sayles can be reached at email@example.com.