In collaboration with Classrooms Without Borders, the Artsmiths in Pittsburgh is hosting a gallery viewing of Humans of Tel Aviv, on display now until February 26th.
The show gives Pittsburghers the opportunity to travel the streets of Tel Aviv through the eyes of photographer Erez.
Erez uses the project to celebrate diversity, which is omnipresent in Tel Aviv.
"The main idea of Humans of Tel Aviv is celebrating human rights and celebrating people," says Erez. "Tel Aviv is so diverse. There are so many different cultures and different outfits, everyone has an attitude. It is one of those places that you can do what you want, and be who you are, and people will accept you."
Similar to New York City and the popular Humans of New York page, Erez says that Tel Aviv is a place where everyone has a story to tell. More than just trying to tell that story, Erez hopes to inspire people to talk to each other, and learn each other's stories.
"When you look at someone you have a millions ideas about them, and what I have learned is that your first impression doesn't match the reality. I encourage people to go and talk to each other, and ask questions. You will see another reality."
These are the stories that Erez displays through his photographs. Through our conversation it was apparent that Erez has a traveler's soul. We were able to bond over the fact we have both backpacked in Southeast Asia, and I could totally imagine meeting Erez on the road. As it turns out, these travels, and answering the traveler's million dollar question, "Where are you from?" partly inspired the project.
"People's faces changed when I told them I was from Israel. I always told myself, if I could show these people the real Tel Aviv, and show them what is about, then maybe, just maybe they would see. This is what I am proud of. That I am actually showing people and changing what they see."
Erez states that the diversity of Tel Aviv lends itself to many characters, and kodak moments.
"Tel Aviv is very small, you can walk from the north to south in a little over a hour. Every 10 minutes the atmosphere, feel, and language is changing. This is what makes Tel Aviv so vibrant."
As someone who has personally been reprimanded for street photography, or missed a fantastic photo opportunity from being shy, I asked Erez if he ever got nervous.
"Every time. Every time I approach a person I get nervous, and have those butterflies in my belly. But this is what keeps you going, the thrill of approaching a stranger in the street and ask about their life."
For his collaboration with Classrooms Without Borders, Erez got the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh, attend events and give lectures at different schools and community centers. Yinzers will be happy to hear that he was impressed.
"I was impressed with Pittsbrugh, it is one of the best places I've ever been. If I would ever reconsider relocation, it would be on the top of the list"
Now, more than ever, it is important to celebrate diversity. Be sure to check out Humans of Tel Aviv at the Artsmiths until February 26th. More information on Erez and Humans of Tel Aviv can be found on the project's website, Facebook, and Instagram.
Thank you Erez for taking the time to chat!