Canterbury Shaker Village 2011
I am on a mission to bring to the front work I've made over the years that is unseen, unpublished and unshown. The work I did one foggy morning in August 2011 of the Canterbury Shaker Village in Canturbury, NH would need to be included in this group.
I go way back with this small Shaker Village that is a museum. I met the last real surviving Shaker, Sister Emma, about nine months before she died in the early nineties. Back then I did some pro bono work for the museum, making a poster for them and I donated a portfolio of black and white prints I'd made in the mid-nineties for their collection. The location is about 30 minutes north of Concord and I often stop by if driving past. It is on the top of a hill, surrounded by fields and is simply a wonderful place to be, let alone photograph.
I arrived early one mid-August morning in 2011 with everything wet and the top of the hill enshrouded in fog with the sun working to break through the cover as I continued to photograph.
In Elin Spring's interview of my work a couple of weeks ago she asked why I would rephotograph something (Elin Spring blog). How can you not? Because it is fascinating to see what stays the same and what changes. Because I can go back to a familiar topic and reinvent it or re-realize it. Because, which is the case here, I can shoot it in color versus the black and white pictures I made twenty years ago. All of those and more.
The pictures embody a now-classic way in which I work: the walk around, begun as a process over thirty years ago. Simple enough: park the car, put a camera with a lens on it in my hand or over my shoulder, walk around taking pictures as I go, looking for the next frame as I make the present one, a picture leading to the next picture in a kind of quiet choreography of movement, looking, thinking, moving in and out, peering around a corner or turning around 180 degrees to see what I've just done from a different angle. I think of this as a meditative experience, relaxed and easy, but very intense as well. A couple of hours can go by in a moment. In this case, the staff can arrive as the museum prepares to open and people come to see the buildings and exhibits. Just as I was finishing. Nice.
At any rate, I will shut up and let you take a look at the pictures:
There's a stillness and quiet to these pictures made before the museum opened that morning that I like. The prints are muted and there are no brilliant highlights as the area was foggy. As I continued to work, the sun was starting to push its way in and provided soft shadows.
There is simply nothing better than rural New England in mid-summer in the early morning as trees are dripping with dew, the air is still and the sun is starting to break the cover apart, promising another hot and indolent day.
The full series is on the site here.
Suffice it to say that my creative sensibilities align with what the Shakers did, how they lived and what they made. I can take it further by saying that Shaker's philosophy and artistry was instrumental in forming my aesthetic as I attended the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY for my four high school years. Darrow is situated at the first Shaker Village in the United States formed by sister Ann Lee.