Photography takes center stage: 2017 Eyes on Main Street launches this week

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A week of photography events in downtown Wilson kicked off Monday afternoon with 30 local students getting a chance to take photos with a real camera — not a cellphone.

For the second year, Peter Fitzpatrick, chair of the photography department at Columbia College Chicago, headed up a weeklong workshop, teaching 150 local kids the basics of photography. The workshop is held in conjunction with the outdoor photo festival Eyes on Main Street that starts officially on Saturday.

Columbia and Canon were eager to come back this year, he said, after last year’s successful program.

“We had such a great time last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “We didn’t think about not coming back.”

On Monday, 30 kids from Save a Youth’s afterschool program headed out to designated spots in downtown Wilson to take photos of people, nature, buildings — anything that seemed interesting to them.

Students Jeda Graham and Mekhi Morris took photos of each other on the grounds of the Wilson County Public Library Monday afternoon. They also shot photos of the building and the rose garden before heading to their next destination.

Last year, a slide show ran each night at 203 Nash St., showing the students’ work. The slide show is back this year as well.

The same project was launched last year with Canon’s Rebel with a Cause program loaning 30 Rebel cameras. Students took hundreds of photos last year; many of them are displayed this year on the BB&T building on Nash Street as part of Eyes on Main Street.


That exhibit of 51 student photographs is one of several new exhibits held in conjunction with Eyes on Main Street this year.

“Before Facebook: Daguerreotypes, Tintypes, Cartese De Visite” will feature portraits and street scenes starting from around 1850. It will be housed at Imagination Station.

“Eyes on Taiwan” will also be at Imagination Station. That exhibit includes the work of 10 contemporary Asian photographers focusing on Taiwan. A number of Taiwanese visitors are expected at Saturday’s kickoff event.

“Tomorrow’s Entry is Not Guaranteed” will focus on work by photographer Hareth Yousef with photographic and written personal narratives based in Palestine. See that show, presented by Columbia College Chicago, at 115 Goldsboro St.

The main feature of the festival, of course, will be the 100 large-scale photographs that currently line storefronts along Nash Street. The exhibit was curated by festival founder Jerome De Perlinghi of Wilson and co-curated by Catherine Coulter Lloyd and Régina Monfort.

The 100 photographers are from 31 countries with an equal number of men and women.

The photographers include the late Marc Riboud, Olivia Arthur, Linda Bournane-Engelberth, John Feely, Omar Havana, James Nachtwey, Martin Parr, Eugene Richards, Gaia Squarci and Jo Ann Walters.

The festival’s goal for De Perlinghi has always been to bring people to downtown Wilson, where he lives, and to revitalize the area.


This weekend is the big kickoff for the festival, which runs until July 16. De Perlinghi is expecting more than two dozen featured photographers at the weekend events. The main event is a party Saturday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. behind Imagination Station featuring indie pop band Pinkerton Raid of Durham.

Free barbecue is on the menu for Saturday night as long as it lasts.

Weekend events also include lectures by renowned photographers.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810