303 E. Chapel Hill Street . Durham, NC 27701 . 919.687.0250
artists>Lissa Gotwals

Photo (c) Lissa Gotwals
Central Park South 10 © Lissa Gotwals

Previous Exhibition
Central Park South
Lissa Gotwals

February 16 through April 10, 2007

Artist's Statement

Downtown Durham’s aesthetic might best be expressed by the idea of wabi-sabi; the Japanese recognition of beauty in imperfection. There is beauty in impermanence, as well. It is a kind of beauty that takes time to reveal itself, but Durham’s cracks and flaws do give way to creativity, diversity and respect.

This imperfect beauty is reflected in Foster Street, a physical and metaphorical gateway to downtown Durham, running through the middle of the newly coined “Central Park District.” Originating at the edge of the historic Old North Durham neighborhood, it feeds right into the heart of the city.

Foster Street is comfortably familiar to me. It takes me to the YMCA, to my studio space, to my favorite movie theater. Over the years that I’ve lived near downtown, I’ve become increasingly attracted to the slowly changing, jumbled landscape of this particular street and the surrounding area. But it was the mutual respect between diverse members of this community that really drew me in once I set out exploring with my camera.

The emergence of Durham Central Park has been slow but steady. A school is flourishing. Beautifully renovated spaces have opened their doors. Many low-rent artist studios and half-century old businesses have managed to co-exist amid the growth. It seemed that this pace of change could manage to maintain a balance between preservation and development.

However, more changes have occurred than I ever imagined when I began this project. Many of those old neighborhood businesses, that seemed they would stand the test of time, are closing their doors, the properties purchased by developers. Change is inevitable and is, after all, an element of wabi-sabi. My hope, though, is that innovation and history will coexist and the neighborhood’s eccentric fabric will continue to weave itself through the streets welcoming workers, artists, residents, and visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and colors. This ongoing photo project is my personal way of preserving moments and landscapes throughout the stages of an ever-evolving downtown space—a snapshot of Durham’s humility and harmony.

Lissa Gotwals
Durham, NC 2007




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this page updated April 10, 2012
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