While many Bowdoin students have grown up in an age where Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are household names, the new photography exhibit at Frontier Café will paint a much different picture of a war-torn country.

Tonight at 7 p.m., internationally-acclaimed photojournalist Paula Lerner will unveil a media exhibit featuring her recent study of Afghanistan. A brilliant departure from the war-torn photographs of recent years, Lerner instead focuses on the normality of family life in the Middle East.

The clear intention of her work is to take a step back from politics, conflict, and strife, and to glimpse into the many ways Afghanistan mirrors the western world.

"These sets of stories are important stories to tell. They're different than the other ones coming from Afghanistan right now," said Michael Gilroy, owner of the Frontier Café. "They're not about the bloodshed but about the people behind the scenes."

With beautiful colors, patterns, and symmetry, Lerner photographed children sleeping under a heavy blanket at a day care center, women laughing at a private joke shared between them, a local merchant inspecting his bird cages?all of these images reflecting everyday life in Kabul, the capitol of Afghanistan. One of Lerner's most striking photos is of children's hands, decorated with intricate henna, raised palm up toward an afternoon sun. The photographs strive to inspire peace in lieu of war.

The message of the show ties in well with Frontier's "go beyond" mentality.

"Our real interest is in connecting people to the world and going out and bringing stories closer to home," Gilroy said. "We're challenging people to think beyond their own daily lives."

She first traveled to Afghanistan as part of the Business Council for Peace, which strives to help women in war-torn nations start their own businesses. Lerner documented their work and, through that, was able to capture the people of urban and rural Afghanistan.

"She's a very passionate and motivated person to take on a project like this by herself. She's got great stories," Gilroy said.

Some of Lerner's other studies include a stirring collection of portraits of cancer patients at Beth Deaconess Medical Center in Boston juxtaposed with captains of industry such as the CEO's of Hasbro Inc. and Unica. Another study deals with abstract subjects such as ballerinas in the vein of a Degas painting. Her work is not all serious, however.

Lerner showcases her sense of humor with her work titled "Funny" which features a series of strange faces, hairdos and static electricity.

Lerner first made her mark in the world of photojournalism in 1985 when she began contributing editorials to publications such as Smithsonian, Time and Newsweek. Her international work includes publications in Asia and Europe.

Not confined in subject, Lerner is known for her wide variety of composition and focus. A resident of Massachusetts, Lerner has close ties to Maine, since her photographs are published and distributed by Aurora Photography based out of Portland.

Admission to the premier of Paula Lerner's Afghanistan Study is $8 and the exhibit begins at 7 p.m. at Frontier Café tonight.