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Cuba 2007 by Ken Ross.

Photo exhibit showcases decades of cultural exchanges

“Twenty-five years of Through Each Others Eyes™: a Cultural Retrospective,” a 70-print photo exhibit featuring images from local and international photographers who have participated in photo exchanges, will be on display May 1 to June 19 at the Shemer Art Center in Northeast Phoenix. The exhibit is free of charge. Through Each Others Eyes (TEOE) is a non-profit organization that utilizes the power of photography to help Valley residents and people around the world understand and appreciate cultures different from their own.

Japan 2006 by David Hunsaker

Japan 2006 by David Hunsaker.

The Shemer Art Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It is located at 5005 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Ariz., 85018.

Started in 1988 as a one-time photo exchange exhibit between professional photographers in Phoenix and its sister city in Himeji, Japan, TEOE has since sponsored 38 international photographic exchange exhibitions viewed by more than 2 million people worldwide. The “Twenty-five years of Through Each Others Eyes” exhibit showcases photography from exchanges with Japan, Mexico, China, Scotland, Ireland, Cuba, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy and the Philippines.

TEOE develops exchanges with photographers in other countries for the purpose of documenting photographically an unfamiliar culture from the viewpoint of an outsider. The photographers spend time in the host city, documenting through photographs, people and their daily lives: their work, relationships with each other, festivals and celebrations, and simple scenes of their daily activities. Once home, the photographers stage a free professional photo exhibit so their local community can learn about and appreciate another culture. The exhibit then moves to the exchange country.

Japan 2011 by Michael Matlach.

Japan 2011 by Michael Matlach.

In addition to photo exhibits, TEOE sponsors and spearheads photo activities for young people, such as Kids-in-Focus. The organization works with at-risk and homeless children from Children First Academy. The youngsters are given cameras and are mentored by TEOE photographers who help them photograph their surroundings.
TEOE has also completed projects with students at Central High School and Lowell Elementary School, and mounted an educational exhibit on Japan in the Casa Grande public library. In addition, for the past 15 years TEOE photographers have provided free individual and class photos of homeless and at-risk students.

“Our mission is to encourage people around the world to understand and appreciate diverse cultures through photography,” said Errol Zimmerman, a co-founder who recently stepped down from the board after serving as the organization’s president for 25 years. He and photographer Peter Ensenberger were the first two Phoenix photographers in the project. For more information, visit www.teoe.org.

Cuba 2002 by Michael Norton

Cuba 2002 by Michael Norton.