Photography exhibition documents Columbus' Bhutanese-Nepali community

Tariq Tarey and Doug Rutledge began documenting the stories of (primarily Somali) refugees relocating to Columbus in 2003. The exhibition “Bhutanese-Nepali Neighbors: Photographs by Tariq Tarey” is a natural sequel to that earlier project. There are approximately 20,000 Bhutanese-Nepali people living in the Greater Columbus area, and the exhibition presents images and stories of their long and often arduous relocation journeys.

Rutledge, who curated the exhibition, stressed the importance of documenting this latest resettlement both for the stories of those forced to leave their homes in Bhutan and also for the impact on Ohio.

“Regardless of what you see in their faces, from relief to stress, they tell a story,” Rutledge said. “We wanted to let them express themselves when they came to be interviewed and photographed. We are presenting this community with dignity, to show that their history is now part of Ohio history.”

“The stories are not exaggerated,” Tarey said. “Their stories are true to what you are seeing in the photographs.”

Both Tarey and Rutledge said this project also documents the efforts of Columbus institutions in support of these refugees, perhaps the result of lessons learned during Somali resettlement. There is also an effort to document the economic and cultural impact of this growing Bhutanese-Nepali community in Columbus.