A new photography exhibit documenting homelessness and homeless communities in Portland and Seattle is now on display at the City Hall Council Chambers and will be showcased at an artist's reception during the April 5 First Friday Art Walk.
Curated by Greg Robinson, Chief Curator at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, the exhibit features a sample of photographs by internationally acclaimed photojournalist Steve Wilson, a resident of Bainbridge Island and Seabeck. Wilson's career spans from the New York and Seattle World's Fairs to LIFE and National Geographic magazine.
"At my final photo assignment with LIFE, my editor, David Friend, asked me 'What's next?' I told him that I was interested in low-income and homeless," recalls Steve Wilson. "He told me 'No one cares about that,' so that's why I did it. Because no one cares."
Wilson’s photos in the exhibit are included in his American Street Philosophers book project that features Dignity Village, a permanent city-recognized homeless encampment in Portland. The project combines Wilson’s photographs with personal stories and quotes, poems, and observations he refers to as “anecdotes from surviving.”
“It’s amazing to see photos I have come to love over the years alongside fresh images, available to all at City Hall,” said Councilmember Leslie Schneider who is sponsoring the exhibit. “I’ll bet anyone who takes the time to experience them will feel a shift; maybe new questions rise up.”
In 2005, Schneider toured Dignity Village with her father and son who was then seven years old. The encampment included dozens of tiny homes built from recycled building materials and common facilities for cooking and hygiene situated on a parking lot near the Portland airport. Now, Bainbridge Islanders are getting a glimpse into this community through Wilson’s work.
“Steve Wilson was able to capture these photos not just because of his artistry, but also because he cares, because he spent so much time with these communities. With this exhibit, we are challenged to see a bit of ourselves or our family and community in these faces,” said Schneider.
The April 5 reception is 6-8 p.m. and will include remarks by Greg Robinson at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Guitarist Robin Kutz will perform during the event.
If you can't make the April 5 event, the exhibit will be displayed in the Council Chamber through August.