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Origins and Destinations is on display at the Miami International Airport: *Gates D21, D24, D27 and D30 in the American Airlines terminal through March 2016.

When I was 10 years old, I had the unusual experience of walking down Market Street in San Francisco with my art teacher and my best friend. As we looked out at the big city, with its array of businessmen and homeless people, my art teacher leaned over us and said: “I want you to look at each person we pass and find the beauty in their uniqueness. In the wrinkles stemming from that man’s eyes, or the freckled skin of that boy’s face, or the curve of that old lady’s back. I want you to look carefully, and I want you to find their beauty.” It was a difficult assignment and it took some time, but eventually we learned to find that beauty. That day shifted the way I see the world.

Years later, as I sat waiting at the Miami international airport, I fell in love with the individuals surrounding me. As I became curious about the people who were sharing the complex crossroads of North, East, South and West, this project was conceived. I photographed and interviewed over 200 people for this body of work. Going behind security, hanging out with Cuban families at the Customs exit and approaching complete strangers, were all part of the process. The generosity of the participants was exquisite, no two interactions were alike. The resulting exhibition aims to shift the context in which nameless and unfamiliar faces are often seen, making the invisible – visible.

Thinking of each person as an individual thread, with an origin and destination, this exhibition explores the beauty of the ever-changing tapestry of humanity present at any given moment.

“Beauty, humanity, storytelling. In my mind a photograph can be a personal snapshot in time, a cultural artifact, a historical document and a piece of art.”

For Laena Wilder, photography not only opens dialogue, but also creates a thought-provoking record. With a Bachelors of Fine Arts (AAU) and a Masters of Fine Arts (UNC), Wilder uses photography and oral history as tools for gathering cultural information and facilitating exchange within diverse communities. Her efforts have earned her a prestigious Rockefeller Fellowship Grant and her visual research has taken her around the world. Exhibitions of Wilder‘s artwork have been displayed internationally and domestically including: SECCA – the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, Foto Gallerie in Hong Kong, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, the Kostroma Municipal Gallery in Russia, and the Gap Corporate Art Collection. www.wildervision.com

Additional press on the exhibition: http://www.6seconds.org/2015/12/22/photos-in-miami-airport-teach-highschoolers-emotional-literacy/

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