Photographer Abdi Osman says he’s always been interested in visiting the South. The history and culture is what’s drawn him here and what led him to apply for an artist-in-residence position at the McColl Center for Visual Arts, where his documentary photo exhibit is on display now through March 18.

Photographer Abdi Osman (photo at left) and a photo from his ‘Discover Us…’ series. Photo Credit: Abdi Osman
Photographer Abdi Osman (photo at left) and a photo from his ‘Discover Us…’ series. Photo Credit: Abdi Osman

Osman, a Somali-born Canadian who makes his home in Toronto, has focused his work on the intersections of Muslim and queer identities, as well as LGBT men of color. In his three months in the Queen City, Osman will work with the Lesbian & Gay Community Center and McColl Center on his “Queer Reclamation Community Outreach Project.”

He’s providing disposable cameras to LGBT community members and asking them to take pictures of people, places and artifacts iconic of and symbolizing the city’s LGBT culture and community. In March, he’ll combine the various community-submitted photos into at least one commemorative poster documenting queer life in the Queen City.

Osman’s local project is an extension of his life’s passion.

“All my documentary photography is mostly queer-themed work,” he tells qnotes. “When they asked me to do a community project I came up with the idea of working with the Lesbian & Gay Center. It made sense.”

Although he’s only been in Charlotte for a few weeks, Osman says he likes what he’s seen but didn’t have any expectations before visiting.

“I wasn’t expecting anything because I wasn’t familiar with what kind of reaction I’d get from people,” he says. “People seem to be very nice.”

And, even for a visitor, it doesn’t take long to adjust to life here: “I also find the city is not a big city but it is very spread out,” he notes.

Osman’s final product will be unveiled at the McColl Center on March 19. In order to make that final product a success, he’s asking folks to pick up and return the disposable cameras before the end of February. Cameras can be obtained at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center or the McColl Center. Individuals with photos of their own can burn them to a CD and drop them off at either location as well. : :

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This article was published in the Feb. 20 – Mar. 5 print edition.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.