Very pleased to meet you. It would be great if you can get the word out about the exhibit as I’ve been working very hard on the project for years.

Sowebo/Soweto by Martha Cooper

Opening Reception: Wednesday, Feb 4th @ 7PM

Martha Cooper, a Sowebo resident, connects the Baltimore neighborhood to its namesake Soweto (Southwest Township, South Africa).

“In 2006 I decided I wanted to do a long-term street photography project outside of NYC where I live. I chose my hometown, Baltimore where my dad and uncle owned a camera store on Harford Road for over 50 years—Coopers Camera Mart. After doing some reconnaissance, I bought a little house in Sowebo that I found on line in an effort to become part of the neighborhood. The house, near Hollins Market, had been renovated by John Ellsberry, an artist you may know. I call it my “country house” and have made about 200 trips from NYC since then, mostly on the Bolt bus.

In 2012 I was invited to South Africa for a street art event by Ricky Lee Gordon, a South African artist I met while photographing Open Walls Baltimore. ESPO was one of the artists invited to Johannesburg. When we went to Soweto, I was struck by the similarities to Sowebo and began to compare them in photos. In 2013 I lived in Soweto for a month as an artist-in-residence and in 2014 was invited back to Soweto again as part of Red Bull Amaphiko, a social entrepreneur project.

The exhibition at Gallery 788 is the first time I will exhibit these photos in the US. There will be several hundred photos of just Sowebo in addition to the Soweto pairs. I focused on community rather than drugs, trash, and boarded up buildings. My hope is that people seeing the exhibit will look at the rich street life, in one of Baltimore’s most impoverished neighborhoods, with fresh eyes.”

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