"Through Each Others Eyes": A 25-Year Cultural Retrospective at Arcadia's Shemer Art Center
Through Each Others Eyes "Musicians" by Errol Zimmerman, shot in Mazocahui, Sonora, Mexico in 1998.
After more than two decades and with nearly a dozen participating countries, it may be one of the most large-scale photography projects in the world. Or, at the very least, the Valley.
Through Each Others Eyes, an artistic offshoot of the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission, celebrates its 25th exchange this month at the Shemer Art Center. "25 Years of Through Each Others Eyes: A Cultural Retrospective" features more than 77 photographic prints from all over the world -- from the far east to our neighbors north and south.
Phoenix joined the Sister Cities program, an international student exchange, in 1972 as part of a national outreach established by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. More than 2,000 cities in the United States are linked with nearly 1,800 foreign "sister" cities as part of the cultural partnership.
The photographic lens didn't play a role until 16 years later, in the late 1980s. It was then that two burgeoning photographers, Errol Zimmerman and Peter Ensenberger, were the first to embark on such an exchange, which took them to Japan in January 1988. Neither was considering the long-term effects a project like this might have, Zimmerman writes in an e-mail to New Times. No one knew it would blossom into an important conversation about cross-country and cross-continent relationships. Transcending what it means to learn about another culture, to capture it in an accessible way.
"We had a free trip, free film and a Sister Cities-sponsored exhibit of our Japan images, so we were excited about our good luck," Zimmerman writes. "When the exhibit was held in February, we realized that we had a chance to provide other photographers with this same opportunity, and that's when we began to consider this to be a 'project.'"
The two learned an immeasurable amount from their colleagues in Japan, which Zimmerman, co-founder and current Through Each Others Eyes board member, says was crucial in making the photographic partnership the experience it is today.
"It was from them that we learned what 'hosting' should be," he adds.