Ukraine War photographer's work finds temporary quarters at Hawkeye Community College

Photographs from Brendan Hoffman posted on Friday, April 15, 2022 in  College News

WATERLOO — As the world focuses on the war raging in Ukraine, Hawkeye Community College’s Lindsay Buehler has become the caretaker, of sorts, for an exhibition, “Brotherland: War in Ukraine” featuring documentary photography by Brendan Hoffman.

The American-born photographer is based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he is covering the war as a contributing photographer for U.S. national media outlets. Hawkeye received the show last summer after it left The Blanden Art Museum in Fort Dodge and originally displayed it at Black Hawk Hall corridor from Aug. 30 to Dec. 16.

Because Hoffman hasn’t designated the exhibition’s next stop and has no way send it safely back to Ukraine, the artwork continues to hang at HCC, said Buehler.

“His photography is stunning. Just as I was getting ready to take the work down and pack it back into the crate it traveled from Ukraine in, things started to escalate. So we’re keeping it safe until he is able to return stateside, or lets me know where to send it,” she explained.

“Brendan is still in Ukraine, documenting the war for the New York Times. We’re glad to give it space and greater context. Brendan even joined us from Ukraine via Zoom last November for an artist talk with our students.”

Hoffman is a founding member of a photographic collective, Prime, and contributes work to such publications as the Times and National Geographic magazine, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, USA Today and other leading publications. He became familiar with Iowa while covering the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and 2012.

“He was interested in Iowa and Webster City, in particular, and has photographed that community,” Buehler said, as part of an exploration of Middle America. A coincidental connection with Webster City is how Buehler eventually crossed paths with Hoffman.

Hoffman, originally from Albany, N.Y., graduated from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and launched his career in Washington, D.C., covering the White House and Congress. He moved to Moscow, Russia, in 2013, and began working in Ukraine during the “Revolution of Dignity.”

His long-term photographic project on Ukraine began with the 2013-2014 Maidan protests in Kyiv which lead to his extensive, continuing coverage of the war in eastern Ukraine, including the first and second Battle of Donetsk Airport and the Battle of Debaltseve. His work has been exhibited in Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zaporizhia and Kryvyi Rih.

In his artist statement related to “Brotherhood: War in Ukraine,” Hoffman noted, “I’ve been photographing the war, and civilian life surrounding it, since its early days in April 2014, one of very few photographers to have continually worked on both sides. My portrayal takes a humanistic perspective to consider that the vast majority of people touched by this war, civilians and soldiers alike, on all sides, are victims whose lives have been irreversibly altered by forces beyond their control – forces that, as in all wars, originate with a deliberate choice to kill. My pictures also emphasize the inherent absurdity of armed conflict: the shock of the unimaginable juxtaposed with the utterly mundane.”

Hoffman also covered the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and other international stories. His first photographic feature story for National Geographic, published in July 2020, was about the challenges facing India and Pakistan in sharing water resources in the Indus River basin.

The photographer received a Fulbright Scholar fellowship for 2018-2019 and has received numerous grants, including from the National Press Photographers Association.

“I think the context of his work in Ukraine is understood in greater detail now. All of the regions that he spoke to us about last fall — Donbas, Donetsk, etc., have become familiar terms,” Buehler said. She keeps track of Hoffman regularly on Instagram “to make sure he’s still posting photos and is OK. He posts photos daily, which I think is his way of letting those of us in the States know that he’s OK.

“At some point, I’m sure he’ll get in touch and decide where the exhibit is going.”

By Melody Parker, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier


  1. Arts & Culture
  2. Brendan Hoffman
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