Young Addicts

I won’t claim to be a specialist on the subject of child drug addicts, and I don’t know any of the statistics (after a brutal course in college I will never again pay much attention to statistics). What I do know is what I see with my own eyes and what I experience when I travel and when I work.

I know that every country and every region has problems with drug addiction to varying degrees. However, I also know that in developing countries the problem is much, much worse than anything we see in the West. 

During my recent trip to Uganda I spent a good deal of my time in the slums of Kampala photographing the lives of the children that live in the midst of poverty and chaos. In these areas, drug addiction takes on new meaning. There are literally hundreds of children living on the streets as drug addicts. Their drug of choice is the only one that they can afford—glue. The vast majority are battered and bruised from constant fighting, wearing filthy, tattered clothes. 

Now add to this the fact that many of these children are missing hands and feet. You see, they can’t afford food; the glue they sniff is cheaper and it takes the hunger pains away. Of course, the glue is not free and some of the children have been known to steal in order to feed their addiction. In an area where no one has much of anything, the locals hide crude bear and wild animal traps to keep the children away. It does little to solve or help the problem, other than taking the child off the streets for a week or two after they have lost fingers, toes or a limb.

Like most things in life, the problem is complex. The simplest solution would be to make it more difficult for the children to get the glue that they sniff, as all they have to do is go to any one of the vendors on the street that will put some glue in an empty bottle for the children to sniff. Locals agree that the children should not be sold glue, but the public official of this area (basically the mayor of this district I am told) is the one who imports the drugs and supplies the street level dealers. His money and power keep him safe.  •


Zoriah Miller is an award-winning photojournalist. His work has been featured in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, museums and publications. With a background in disaster management and humanitarian aid, Zoriah specializes in documenting human crises in developing countries. He periodically works with the Denver VOICE or provides photo-essays related to local, national or international poverty and homelessness.

Art Feature: Lens on the city

Published March 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 3

text by Tim Covi
photots by Zoriah Miller

When it comes to growth and design, Denver seems to be at the cutting edge of new models of development, embracing terms of the times like “new urbanism,” “sustainable” and “green.” Communities like Lowry, Landmark, Stapleton and Belmar have spotted the landscape on the outer ring of the city over the past 8 years, and newer re-developments like the Gates Rubber Plant project and the planned build out behind Union Station are under way within the shadow of downtown.

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Art Feature: Drippy Bone Books- Art zines, subculture, & the future of humor publishing

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

by Travis Egedy

In this digital age of hypermedia and endless consumption of temporary, throw-away culture, Drippy Bone Books are a breath of fresh air. Drippy Bone Books is first and foremost a publisher of underground zines, handmade Xeroxed art objects that carry their signature style of pop culture collage and child like drawings. Each copy is a thing of personal touch, love and care, a touch that is becoming increasingly foreign in mass-produced culture.  Started by local Denver artists Kristy Foom and Mario Zoots, Drippy Bone is now based out of Amsterdam and Los Angeles as well, allowing a large mass of zine fans and appreciators to rabidly snatch up everything this extremely creative collective spits out. With zine titles such as “Whore Eyes,” “Sonic Bonk,” and “Bronze Legs” the collective have a playful approach to what they do, never taking themselves too seriously.  I spoke with Mario Zoots and Kristy Foom about building community through art, what it’s like to be making your own books just for the love of doing it.    

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Art Feature: Ravi Zupa

Published August 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 7

by Natalie Covert

Ravi Zupa can’t say his life has changed since the recent “world ending” recession. The Denver artist continues to live simply and make art daily.  He works independently and sets his own schedule, being sustained through art sales, video projects, and his recent Westword MasterMind Award for Video/Film/Multimedia. He moves easily from making multimedia compositions rich in illustration, to short films and music videos.

To know Ravi and see his self-portraits is to witness contradictions he uses throughout his artwork.  His self-portraits can suggest an intense character—bald with a straggly beard and dark piercing eyes; face-to-face, he reveals himself as quiet and humble—if not sweet.

Drawing from various religions and cultures, Zupa creates a myriad of mythological scenes featuring contrasts of character.   A Mayan God holds a pistol to his neck.  Armed soldiers bare the wings of an archangel.  A multi-armed Robot God sprouts from a lotus flower. 

By combining a wide assortment of icons, Zupa compels viewers to unveil the mystery behind his sometimes obscure connections.  Taking the opportunity to ask him some questions, we interviewed him about his work and inspirations. 

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Art Feature: Connection/ You+Ross Evertson

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

by Ross Evertson

I spent most of my time in college arguing. I went to art school, and despite the fact that I am an artist and photographer, it didn’t seem to agree with me. It was my nature then—and it still is, somewhat—to be disagreeable. I’ve been called argumentative and told that I obviously like to argue purely for the sake of it. Really though, I tend to play the devil’s advocate because it is typically more interesting and useful than simply agreeing with someone.

This project is the result of one of these arguments/discussions. Someone was waxing romantic about the connection between the photographer and his subject. This sort of mystical assumption is exactly the kind of thing that gets me excited to argue, but instead of engaging them I realized instantly what I would do instead. Five years later, I am finally working on it.

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