More to see at Eyes on Main Street

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Downtown Wilson will once again host a major outdoor and indoor exhibit of 100 large-scale photographs as well as several other smaller displays. 

Eyes on Main Street, in its fourth year, brings acclaimed photographers and their work to town for a one-day celebration April 21 followed by a 100-day gallery show. 

“We are very proud to bring this for the people of Wilson,” said Jerome De Perlinghi, Eyes on Main Street founder and co-curator.

The featured photos will be displayed on storefronts along Nash Street from The Wilson Times at Pine Street, running east to Pettigrew Street, until July 29.

This year’s main gallery photographers are from 35 countries, from Syria and India to Cuba and South Africa, with an equal number of men and women photographers. Some are from this country as well, and even as close as Wilson. Their images reflect life in their own country or others. 

De Perlinghi said there is a harsher element in this year’s exhibit, with the theme “Mainstreet, A Crossroads of Culture.” The photos are closer to photojournalism this year, he said. The underlying tone is perhaps part of a global message, De Perlinghi added, and reflects what the photographers submitted. 

But in between the poverty and despair, there are colorful, happier images as well. Some are peaceful, with no conflict, he added.

De Perlinghi pointed out two renowned photographers whose work will be in the show this year main show: American-born French photographer William Klein and Magnum photographer Alex Webb.

In addition to the main exhibition, there will be three additional outdoor shows as well this year.

• During Eyes on Main Street 2017, photographer Judith Rodriguez spent a week in Wilson taking street portraits both indoors and outdoors. De Perlinghi said Rodriguez shot closeups of citizens from all walks of life. Most photos were taken within a mile and a half of downtown. Her photos will be displayed in the garden behind Imagination Station.

• The outdoor kids’ gallery will feature 50 large-scale photos taken during the 2017 children’s workshops here. For two years, Canon USA has teamed up with Columbia College Chicago to offer photography lessons to Wilson youth. They will be back this year as well. The outdoor gallery is located behind Imagination Station.

• Students from Columbia College will show their work in the alley and garden behind the former Super 10 building on Nash Street. The entrance is through Goldsboro Street.

In addition to the outdoor shows, there are several indoors events.

• Imagination Station will host Eyes on Ukraine featuring contemporary photographers Alexander Chekmenev, Igor Chekackhov, Eugeny Kom, Lana Yankovska and Vitaly Fomenko. The show opens on April 21 and runs the length of the photo festival during museum hours.

• Eyes on India will also be housed at Imagination Station and will also include contemporary photography. Artists included in the show are Deepti Astana, Vinita Barretto, Vinod Babu, Subrata Biswas, Sharbendu De, Swarat Ghose and Mouhamed Moustapha. The show opens on April 21 and runs the length of the photo festival during museum hours.

• A new exhibit this year will feature the photography of the first seven Eyes on Main Street resident photographers. The photographers come for a month-long residence and take photos of life around Wilson. De Perlinghi said residents will enjoy seeing themselves or someone they know in the photos. “It should be a very successful show,” he said. Look for this show at the former Wig Mart at 231 E. Nash St.


Eyes on Main Street kicks off on April 21 with a party in downtown Wilson. At 4:30, children who participated in this year’s photo workshops will be honored with a showing of their work at 203 Nash St. At 5:30, the main party behind Imagination Station begins. It will include the band Fireside Collective, free food and drinks for purchase, De Perlinghi said.

He is expecting close to 30 of the exhibiting photographers to attend from as far away as Australia, Africa and South America.

A variety of lectures and workshops will be offered this year on April 21-22. For a complete list, visit eyesonmainstreetwilson.com.

An adult master class with the photographers of Eyes on Main Street will be offered April 18 starting at 9 a.m. The class will include photographers from Australia, Colombia, England, India, Korea, Mali and the United States for an intense workshop on street photography in downtown Wilson.  Cost is $250 or $175 for festival sponsors. Registration information is available on the website.