A tale of four cities

In his first two years at Northeastern, alumnus Mitch Weiss studied nursing in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. But after he got his first camera, his academic focus shifted from healthcare to photography.

“I had the compassion to be in healthcare but I wasn’t necessarily the guy to carry it out,” Weiss explained. While on co-op, he recalled, “I would begin to pre-visualize photographs I wanted to make after each shift.”

Weiss eventually changed his major to graphic design and graduated from the College of Arts, Media and Design in 2009. This month, he is the featured artist at Gallery 360, Northeastern’s venue for the visual arts.

His exhibit is titled Sister Cities: Tokyo, New York, Kyoto, Boston and runs through Dec. 4. An opening reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, Nov. 14 from 4-6 p.m. The reception is co-presented by the Northeastern Center for the Arts.

The display comprises carefully curated black-and-white street photographs depicting scenes from two pairs of sister cities: Boston and Kyoto, Japan, and New York City and Tokyo. The Northeastern community should recognize several photos of Boston, including a shot of the city’s skyline that Weiss took from International Village while it was under construction. That photo is paired with a view of Kyoto from the city’s highest point, Mt. Daimonji.

Weiss—who became interested in Japanese culture after taking a calligraphy class at the Kaji Aso Studio Boston—did not intend to create literal pairings between the sister cities. Last year, he traveled to Japan, where he created the photographs before the series’ concept was developed. The concept came to fruition toward the end of the trip while touring Kyoto with a local, who told him about the relationship between their city and Boston. “Finding the pairs emerge organically after traveling was the exciting part,” he explained.

Weiss has been drawn to street photography since he began taking photos in 2005. The medium’s biggest challenge, he said, is removing the visual clutter and poorly designed disposable materials that detract from a sense of timelessness—a quality that he enjoys capturing in his photographs.

“With every photo, I aim to create a viewing window to give context and a sense of place, allowing viewers to experience the environment through my narration,” Weiss said.

While the Gallery 360 exhibit bears his name, Weiss said the collection would not have come together without Michael Winston, a fellow Northeastern alumnus. The two met after they graduated and Winston now serves as Weiss’ production and licensing manager. “For artists,” Weiss said, “it’s important to delegate business matters to allow the creative process to remain their priority.”

Next year, Weiss will add more cities to the collection and plans to develop a book of photographs that aims to increase the awareness of these global civic partnerships.

For more information about Weiss, visit his website www.mitchweiss.com.