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Celia Roberts photo exhibit opens Friday at Blue Sage

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Photo by Tamie Meck In an image by Paonia photographer Celia Roberts, a Karen child from Myanmar finds a safe haven in the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program in Olathe. A retrospective of works by Roberts opens Friday at the Blue Sage Center for the

Over the decades, Celia Roberts' photographs have captured images that grab at the heart and tug at the imagination. The Blue Sage will host an opening reception for a retrospective of Roberts' photographs from 5-8 p.m. Friday.

The opening is also a celebration of Roberts' birthday.

"My calling is definitely photography," said Roberts, who since the early 1970s has made a living taking photographs. By age 5, Roberts was capturing images on film with a Brownie Reflex camera hung around her neck. She never stopped. Roberts went on to study under Austrian photographer Ernst Haas (1921-1986). Haas, known in part for his documentation of World War II prisoners of war, encouraged her to photograph people, which led to a 20-year study of the nation's migrant farmworkers, beginning in 1992 with a study in black and white images of migrant workers in Colorado.

From 2000-2013 Roberts published "Gracias," a series of wall calendars focusing on migrant life and calling awareness of their culture to the public. Her intent, says Roberts, is to publish a book "on the people who are essential to our well-being, because they feed us."

Roberts is also a founder and a long-time board member of the Blue Sage. In 2006 she was a recipient of the Plate of Bounty Award from the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association for making a difference in the lives of migrant and seasonal farmworker children and their families. She also received a national Migrant Education Harvest of Hope Award in 2010 for her contribution to the farm worker community.

The retrospective will feature 25-30 images beginning from the 1970s. Some will be familiar to her audience, and others will be exhibited for the first time. Also a first for Roberts, her images will be presented on gallery-wrapped canvas.

The retrospective will be on exhibit through July 27. The Blue Sage gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday, and Thursday through Saturday.

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North Fork
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art, Blue Sage, photographer
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