The project explores the fragile side of life and the resilience of the community of Wilson, North Carolina, US.
“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 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.
But this is the past.
As in many mid-size towns across the United States, 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 and unemployment, alcoholism and drug addiction are widespread. Many are homeless and quite few families live in old trailers or in rooms’ houses often overcrowded. The train station splits the town in two sides giving the impression that the old conflicts are not that far removed from the present day. And waves of immigration reshaped the town creating new neighborhoods.
What is the future of the community? Is still Wilson home?
Wilson reacted, reinventing itself tackling all the challenges, the old and the new ones building bridges to the new comers and leaving no one behind.
A mosaic of different experiences and backgrounds tied all together with a strong sense of solidarity, an unshakable hope and, above all, an untouched faith.
The body of work is part of my project Home Wilson made during my artist residency in December 2018 run by Eyes On Main Street. I interviewed old time residents, several immigrated families that just settled down and families living in trailers or in rooms’ houses.
All images and text © Andrea Torrei
By Andrea Torrei