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Rwandan photographer finds brightness with camera

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A church scene in Wilson is captured by photographer Alice Kayibanda during the month of February while she was the artist-in-residence for Eyes on Main Street.
A church scene in Wilson is captured by photographer Alice Kayibanda during the month of February while she was the artist-in-residence for Eyes on Main Street.
Alice Kayibanda | Special to the Times
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Alice Kayibanda, a native of Kigali, Rwanda, was February’s artist-in-residence for Eyes on Main Street, the annual photography festival. This year’s festival runs April 27 to Aug. 4.

Education: MBA from Oklahoma Christian University in 2015

How did you get interested in photography?: “My dad was a photographer but he would not let me touch his camera. I dreamt about it. I wished I could be a photographer, but I never thought I would actually be one.”

What have you photographed in Wilson?: Portraits of business owners, churchgoers and people on the street.

What did you think about Eyes on Main Street?: “I think it is life-changing for a photographer.”

Wilson experience: Photographer Alice Kayibanda tries to find the hope in her subjects.

“Even if a person is poor, I try to find the positive in it,” Kayibanda said.

Kayibanda was the artist-in-residence at the Eyes on Main Street photography festival in February.

During her time in Wilson, Kayibanda took on a project of photographing the owner of Watson Enterprises, Marvin Watson, who sells African clothing from his business at 211 Nash St.

She has also trained her camera on parishioners at various churches around town and the different ways they worshiped.

Kayibanda added in various portraits of people she encountered on the streets of Wilson.

“At night, I have been to bars. During the day I have been to churches. I have been everywhere,” Kayibanda said. “Church is very important to most of the people I have met.”

Kayibanda said her first week was difficult for her.

“There are a lot of people in poverty,” Kayibanda said. “I see a lot of misery. Sometimes it can be draining. I just have to accept it as it is. I felt helpless.”

Kayibanda said she likes the idea of Eyes on Main Street and thinks that a foreigner’s eyes and camera can show a lot about a place.

“I think it is very important. I think it is important for a person of another culture to come,” Kayibanda said. “For me, the experience was more than photography. I was able to understand the African-American community.”

 

 

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