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University of Iowa News Release

 

Sept. 5, 2007

Photo: A woman in Guanzhou, China, chalked a message on the sidewalk that reads, "I was deceived and taken in by the city. I do not have even a penny. I have no one to turn to for help; therefore I hope any benefactor can lend me money so I can purchase food and a bus ticket to go home. Wishing safety and peace in your life." She is part of an estimated 150 to 200 million people who have moved from China's rural areas to its major cities in search of work, economic freedom and material prosperity. The summer 2005 photo was taken by Peter Szto, a social work professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Szto's photos of China's "floating population" are on display at Gallery I on the eighth floor of the John W. Colloton Pavilion at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Professor to discuss photo exhibit on 'floating population' of China Sept. 17

An estimated 150 to 200 million people have moved from China's rural areas to its major cities in search of work, economic freedom and material prosperity since the 1980s. It has been called the largest migration of people in history.

A compelling photography exhibition, now on display at Gallery I on the eighth floor of the John W. Colloton Pavilion at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, documents this massive migration.

Peter Szto, a social work professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, will provide a public lecture focused on his photographic essay at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 in the East Room of the Colloton Pavilion (eighth floor, elevator F).  A reception will follow the lecture. The reception will honor Szto's work and the work of interpreters and translators at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Titled "A Visual Study: China's Floating Population in Guangzhou, China," the exhibit continues through Oct. 10. Szto's work, captured in a series of digital images, depicts a story of what the floating population looks like, where they live, and the strategies they rely on to survive. This visual study began on the streets of Guangzhou, China, formerly known as Canton, in summer 2005. The term "floating population" reflects the migrants' illegal residency status.

Szto grew up in New York City. At a young age, he was moved to help by the plight of the city's dispossessed and downtrodden. His current research involves documentary photography to study social welfare problems in China. "I hope my photographs motivate people to want to help as they moved me to want to tell their story," he said.

The lecture and reception are hosted by the School of Social Work, part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, along with the hospital's Project Art and Department of Social Service, Interpretation and Translation Services.

"The exhibit is testimony to the plight of millions who left their homes in the countryside to take advantage of China's economic boom," said Ed Saunders, director of the UI School of Social Work and a researcher of social welfare in China. "They found themselves caught in far-away cities without a safety net, and often without the jobs they sought."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Peter Szto, University of Nebraska, 402-554-2330, pszto@mail.unomaha.edu; Ed Saunders, UI School of Social Work, 319-335-3316, edward-saunders@uiowa.edu; Nicole Riehl, UI News Services, 319-384-0070, nicole-riehl@uiowa.edu