“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”
~Henry David Thoreau
Through Each Others Eyes™ encourages people around the world to understand and appreciate diverse cultures through photography.
Through Each Others Eyes™ International Center for Cultural Education is making the world a better place through photography. The Center coordinates photographic exchanges, educational programs and traveling exhibitions to help people around the world understand and embrace cultures different from their own.
that photographers, using their craft to explore the human relationships which define a culture, can help all of us form a greater understanding and appreciation of humankind.
that self-expression through photography can nurture young people, can help them gain new insights, and can help them develop self-esteem.
that photographers have an obligation to use their skill and expertise to educate people of all ages and help those in need.
in a demonstrated respect for cultural diversity achieved through home stays and photographic exchanges, and people-to-people interaction.
in creating awareness of and appreciation for artistic creativity and talent, especially of photography.
in the power of photography to change perceptions and influence people for the greater good.
Through Each Others Eyes™ began in 1988 as an artistic outreach of the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission. The commission that year sent two professional photographers from Phoenix (Peter Ensenberger and Errol Zimmerman) to Japan to take pictures of Japanese life and culture, and invited two Japanese photographers to travel to Arizona to capture images of American life. The photo exhibit in February, 1988—one of many cultural and artistic exchanges featured in Phoenix’ first Japan Week—was successful in its visual presentation of how two different cultures perceived each other.
The invitation card for the first 1988 Through Each Others Eyes™ Exhibit (February, 1988)
While under the umbrella of the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission, our organization held regular photographic exchanges and exhibitions involving photographers in Japan and in Phoenix’ sister city of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. In 1996 Through Each Others Eyes™ became a separate non-profit organization, yet it has worked closely with the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission in establishing exchanges with photographers in the following sister cities: Prague, the Czech Republic; Catania, Sicily; Ennis, Ireland, and Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. Currently our organization has on-going exchange programs with photographers in nine countries around the world, including several from outside the sister city connection (Havana, Cuba; Edinburgh, Scotland; Baguio, the Philippines, and Zenzhou, Henan Province, China).
Since the first exchange in 1988, more than 100 photographers in Phoenix and abroad have participated in photo exchanges which have produced more than 150 exhibitions world-wide which have been view by more than two million people. In addition, photographers in our organization have developed photo exchanges for school students, have given portrait photos to underprivileged children, and provided pictures for families in homeless shelters.
Collen Miniuk-Sperry and Art Holeman (center) with photographers Antonio Figueroa (left), Juan Cassanova (second from right) and Salvador Borrega (right) in Álamos, Son., México in January, 2009
How We Do It
Through Each Others Eyes™ develops exchanges with photographers in other countries for the purpose of documenting photographically a new culture from the viewpoint of an outsider. The subject matter of the resulting exhibitions, displayed multiple times in each country, centers on people and their daily lives: their work, their relationships with each other, their festivals and celebrations, and simple scenes of their daily activities.
In developing these exchanges, the organization finds foreign photographers willing to support our mission. Through Each Others Eyes™ invites two photographers to Phoenix where they are hosted in the homes of our members and taken to locations, activities, and events they wish to photograph. The hosting photographers in Phoenix provide transportation and pay all expenses, and the foreign photographers return the favor when two Phoenix TEOE members travel to the foreign country.
Taking pictures for the exchange lasts one to two weeks, and each of the four photographers provide 20 16×20” prints for the exhibition. Each exhibit has at least one showing in Phoenix and one abroad, although the Phoenix exhibits usually have three separate displays.
Associate photographers of Through Each Others Eyes™ are chosen on their photographic ability and their dedication to the mission of the organization. A new photographer will have a guaranteed participation in exchanges with photographers in Japan and Mexico, and will photograph other countries as opportunities arise. The photographers meet monthly, serve on committees, participate in community service projects, and assist in finding venues, publicizing, and setting up TEOE receptions and exhibitions. Photographers also work with the Board of Directors in finding funding sources for the organization.
Photographers in Through Each Others Eyes have worked each year to help young people understand cultures different from their own.
From the first year of incorporation members of TEOE have made presentations in schools and helped young people take meaningful pictures. The “State Fair Project” ran from 1999 – 2004, and in this project volunteer TEOE photographers took junior and senior high school students to the Arizona State Fair, guided them as they took pictures of many aspects of the event, processed their film that day, and edited their slides to show them the positives and negatives of their effort.
In 2005, under the sponsorship of Arizona Public Service, the photographers of Through Each Others Eyes™ produced “The People of Japan” exhibit for the public schools of Casa Grande, AZ. Composed of 44 images depicting cultural life in Japan, the display remained in the Casa Grande public library for four weeks for teachers and their students to view. The photographers developed a workbook on Japan, produced with the assistance of Glendale teacher Nancy Matsui, which was given to all elementary school teachers for classroom use, and all teachers in the city school system received a DVD with additional information on each picture as well as information on the Japanese language.
In 2006, under the sponsorship of Wells Fargo Bank and Tempe Camera, TEOE produced an exhibit of pictures taken by 6th Grade students at Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix and at IMARC Elementary School in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Through Each Others Eyes photographers Paul O’Neill and Scott Baxter took disposable cameras, provided free through Tempe Camera, to Dustin Hesser’s sixth grade art class at Lowell Elementary School. O’Neill and Baxter talked to the students and provided examples of subjects for the exhibit, including pictures of their home, their family, and their friends at school.
Tempe Camera also provided 30 disposable cameras to Hermosillo photographers Jesús Antonio Soto and Edith Reyes Freaner, who asked a sixth grade class at IMARC to photograph the same subjects. The exhibit, with at least one picture from each student, provided insight into the lives of these students, but also showed the differences of the schools and neighborhoods in Phoenix and Hermosillo.
Since the 2006 project, TEOE photographers have concentrated on making individual presentations to youth while seeking sponsorships for additional photo/cultural programs for youth. In 2012 TEOE plans to place traveling exhibits in public school libraries to help young people understand and appreciate cultural values.
Community Service ProjectS
Each fall and spring for the past 14 years, the photographers of Through Each Others Eyes™ have photographed at-risk students–first at the Pappas Schools for homeless children in Phoenix and Tempe, and now at the two campuses of Children First Academy. Under the sponsorship of McKenna Pro Imaging of Waterloo, Iowa, which donates the printing, TEOE provides pictures of classes and individual students portraits to the parents completely free of charge! For the past five years student stylists of the Cutting Edge Style Academy in Peoria have also assisted, giving out free combs and styling the hair of each child before the photo is taken. From the hugs of the children and the many thank you notes received, the photographers of TEOE know how much their effort is appreciated!