Photographer and human rights activist Ana Elisa Fuentes has traveled the world capturing moments of triumph and injustice, reflecting women's empowerment and the obstacles they continue to face.
Her work, on display until April 11 at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County, has relevance in the current U.S. political climate, the California resident said Thursday.
Fuentes, 53, said the response to talk radio host Rush Limbaugh's recent comments in the debate about contraception funding represented a change from similar controversies in the past.
This time, she noted, many sponsors pulled ads from his show.
Women still face struggles, but are having an impact, Fuentes said.
"Now we're being heard," she said. "It's no longer fighting to be heard. Now the door has opened."
Her photo exhibit, "Women's Activism and Empowerment: A Global Perspective," at the center's museum features work from throughout her career, portraying women of all ages who have struggled and overcome oppression. The exhibit is part of the museum's celebration of Women's History Month.
"Women's activism has become a human right," Fuentes said. "This is a real global perspective of girls and women around the world fighting incredible challenges and oppression."
The collection of 25 photographs includes images of Nobel Peace Prize winners, 1960s civil rights activists and the founders of a peanut cooperative in Haiti.
The exhibit is part of the Glen Cove center's effort to provide lessons not just about the Holocaust, but more broadly about tolerance, according to Beth Lilach, the center's senior director of education and community affairs.
Fuentes grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., and was raised by her mother, who died in July. Her mother inspired her to be strong, Fuentes said, and she dedicated the exhibit to her. "She never let me give up," Fuentes said. "She was one of my role models."
Fuentes said she became a photographer when she was 12 and she received a camera as a gift. She grew to use her work as "a tool for social change, human rights and social justice," she said. "I thought it was a way to impact more people and educate on current issues."
Her work was included in exhibits at the United Nations. "My whole goal is that my images will be enough to stop people and call them to think or at least to question," she said.
The museum will host a reception for Fuentes at 2 p.m. Sunday. The museum suggests a donation of $10 for adults for admission.