NPR logo 100 Words: Stella Johnson On Philoxenia

100 Words: Photographers Speak

100 Words: Stella Johnson On Philoxenia

I reconnected with my cousins in Greece in 2007, after having photographed, over the years, in numerous villages and countries in constant search of my roots.

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As I walk around Mytilene on the island of Lesvos, I meet more and more people who turn out to be either relatives or friends of the family; it is a beautiful thing. When photographing daily life in and near the neighborhood where my cousins live, I often have a posse of children and dogs accompanying me. The Greek women who sit in their courtyards in the afternoon like to invite me to sit and drink coffee. Even strangers invite me for coffee when I wander into cafes. This kind of embracing hospitality is testimony to their belief in the Greek concept of Philoxenia, which means "friendship to strangers".

This personal series is autobiographical and a documentation of the daily life and culture in Greece, one I hope to also preserve.

Stella Johnson is a Boston-based photographer and professor of photography. Her work has earned her a Fulbright Scholarship as well as notable exhibitions and awards worldwide, most recently she was runner up for the 2011 Julia Margaret Cameron Award. She is represented by Panopticon Gallery, and more of her work can be found on her website.

"100 Words" is a series in which photographers describe their work, in their own words. Curated by Graham Letorney

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