The project explores the fragile side of life and the strong resilience of the community of Wilson, North Carolina.
“The World’s Greatest Tobacco Market” says the title of a book, Wilson was indeed a prosperous trading center of tobacco, with a growing population employed and involved in different thriving activities, a vibrant and bustling downtown as old pictures recall, and a railroad connecting the small and wealthy town to the major cities of the east coast. Like most southern towns, Wilson was segregated under Jim Crow laws, a policy of segregation entrenched in social customs and practices reminding African Americans of their place in a white society marked by violence. Despite the social conflicts, Wilson was home to all and the town enjoyed decades of prosperity. But this is the past.
As the economy declined, countless activities were relocated, the town emptied as people moved away leaving others behind torn between alienation and a sense of belonging. Today, empty storefronts line most of the streets where unemployment, alcoholism and drug additcion are widespread. Many are the homeless and quite few families live in old trailers or in rooms’houses often overcrowded and in poor hygienic conditions. The train station splits the town in two sides and Jim Crow is not that far removed from the present day reminding past segregation.
Waves of immigration mainly from Latin America reshaped the town creating new neighbourhoods and adding new challenges to the fragile community. What is the future of Wilson? What are the expectations of people? Is still Wilson home?
My project is the result of my artist residency in Wilson in December 2018 run by Eyes On Main Street. For one month, I interviewed old time residents and several families that just settled down with hope for a better life. A mosaic of different experiences tied all together by a strong sense of solidarity, an unshakable hope and, above all, an untouched faith.
About Andrea Torrei
Born in Italy and based in Rome, graduated in Political Science I worked for several ngo’s (non governmental organizations) in the social and humanitarian fields traveling extensively in many developing countries. Always interested in photography, only recently I decided to pursue my passion documenting what I know and love most, ordinary people in their daily life with special attention to gender issues and local culture. My body of work spans from street to documentary photography working mainly on personal projects.