Artist shows struggles in poverty-stricken areas


Kjersti McDonald

Chris Brock Photography Exhibit

Kamryn Trusler, staff writer

This week at Missouri Southern, photos of poverty, marijuana, blood and death were displayed in the Spiva Art Gallery. These photos were taken by the artist Christopher Brock during his travels with the US Army to an Afghanistan trauma center, and to impoverished villages in the Philippines.

The photographs from both of these countries make up Brocks’ two-part series, but these series had very different goals and impacts on his life.

The first photos in the series were of the remote villages in the Philippines. The photos contained shockingly beautiful images of the rain forest landscape, and many portraits of the people Brock met there. It also displayed images of the villages’ traditions and customs, for example, marijuana harvesting for the production of hashish and the process of tribal tattoos.

“My goal in the Philippines was to find the most tribal area and document their traditions and customs before they died out,” Brock said.

This goal may not seem like an easy feat for Missouri Southern students, but the project began as a thesis project for Brock’s degree, and he had little difficulty maneuvering through the villages. He even brought his family and two small children with him to live in the village.

“If you go into their house and so much as drink their coffee, you are considered their family,” Brock said.

However, not everything in the villages came easily to Brock.

During his artist lecture at Missouri Southern he mentioned that death and disease are extremely common, and he saw a lot of people die from things that should not have killed them.

“One thing I learned is that if we, as outsiders, bring stuff into their villages, it doesn’t really help,” Brock said, “It creates entitlement and dependencies. They love you when you bring it, but as soon as you stop you are despised.”

The next part of the series was a small piece of Brock’s 25 years of active duty in the Air Force. He was sent to a trauma center in Afghanistan, but not just any trauma center, the busiest trauma center in the world. It was based right in the middle of the combat zone. The images shown were labeled as graphic, and a disclaimer was necessary.

“The injuries were horrific, blown off legs and arms, gun shot wounds to the head, and severe burns just to name a few. Many of the wounded were children caught in the crossfire,” Brock said. “It was nonstop blood, agony and death. My very first thought was, ‘Wow, the world has no idea what is going on here. I have to show them.’”

Even though Brock was sent there to work with a diet therapist, he took out his photography gear and began capturing everything. He was eventually appointed the official photographer.

So what comes next for this courageous photographer? He retired from the military in 2010 and now works as a freelance photographer. His goal is to create more amazing series like this one, and for iconic magazines like National Geographic to purchase his work and get it out in the world.

Find more of his work at