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Annual Carolina Global Photography Exhibition returns to FedEx Global Education Center

With images that represent 30 countries, the exhibition reflects the Carolina community’s deep engagement with partners and communities around the world. The exhibition is made up of photos by undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and alumni.

A collage of photos of a man riding a horse, people celebrating in a parade and a man doing woodwork.

An exhibition showcasing finalists from the 2022-23 Carolina Global Photography Competition is now on display in the FedEx Global Education Center for the spring semester.

With images that represent 30 countries, the exhibition reflects the Carolina community’s deep engagement with partners and communities around the world. The exhibition is made up of photos by undergraduate students, who make up three-quarters of the exhibit, as well as graduate students, staff and alumni. Carolina’s global photography competition has been an annual tradition for more than two decades, but this is the first exhibition since the start of the pandemic to feature new submissions.

A panel of Carolina students, faculty, staff and alumni judged almost 300 submissions to select winning photographs for first, second and third prizes. First-year student Zihan Liu won first place for “Old Man in Beijing.” Taken in Beijing, China, the photo shows a man in deep concentration leaning over a workbench with woodworking tools.

“It is not common to see a Beijinger who’s still dedicated to these traditional woodworks,” Liu wrote in his submission. “In such a fast-paced international city, I was grateful to discover a sense of peacefulness.”

Senior Zheyu Huang won second place for “Under the Waterfall,” and junior Julian Goldner won third place for “Dancer at Oruro Carnival.”

Carolina’s six area studies centers selected spotlight photos for their respective regions.

  • African Studies Center: “Rugs” by Emilie Hofele ’24
  • Carolina Asia Center: “Vietnam, 2018” (rice field) by Phong Dinh ’18, ’22, (MHA)
  • Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies: “Panjshanbe Market” by Matthew Pierro ’23
  • Center for European Studies: “A ‘Street’ View of Venezia” by Cora Lubsen ’24
  • Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies: “The Skies of Mohammad Al-Amin” by Shelby Koelz ’23
  • Institute for the Study of the Americas: “Ixil Maya Ceremony to Bless Their Original Corn Seeds” by Elva Bishop ’84 (MA)

Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs, selected “Heat Wave” by Laura Pratt, fellowship programs coordinator of The Graduate School, as a spotlight for the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs.

Pratt captured the photograph while she was at the University of Tübingen in Germany as an organizer of the 2022 Royster Global Conference “Disruption, Digitization, and Disinformation.” Tübingen is one of Carolina’s four strategic global partners.

In the photo, windows are open to create a cross breeze on a hot summer’s day, which inspired Pratt to reflect on the timing of the conference and its theme. “The irony of discussing mis- and dis-information during a climate change-fueled heat wave (which some still consider “fake news”) was not lost on participants,” wrote Pratt in the caption.

“This photo — of our German partners coping with a heat wave not by turning on the AC but by opening every window — reminds me of the rich (and very open) conversations we had in Tubingen, where facing the coming winter without Russian oil and gas supplies was on everyone’s minds,” said Stephenson.

The competition saw more submissions from the Curriculum in Global Studies than any other academic program, followed by the Hussman School of Media and Journalism and the political science department. The social sciences had the highest representation among academic disciplines, but STEM fields closely followed.

Some of this year’s submissions remind us of the pandemic’s impact.

Senior Preston Fore captured “Loving Those We’ve Lost,” a shot of the National COVID Memorial Wall in London, which stretches more than 500 meters along the south bank of the River Thames. The wall consists of more than 200,000 hand-painted hearts, one for each person who has died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

Though the competition typically sees many photos from Australia, only two submissions were taken there, indicative of pandemic-induced travel restrictions. Most of the photos submitted were taken in Europe, followed by Asia and Latin America.

Many of the photos on display convey a sense of reflection or perspective, from window views to literal reflections in water, like “Hygge Harbor” by John Ratkowiak, which captures a peaceful reflection of buildings lining a street in Copenhagen, Denmark. “Chinatown Machine Shop” in Bangkok, Thailand by junior Andrew Lewis captures a juxtaposition between modernism and religious tradition.

The exhibition and competition are organized by the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs. It is free, open to the public and on display throughout the spring 2023 semester.