events and programs run from noon to 6 p.m., followed by evening receptions on Thursday
and Friday nights from 7 until 10. See schedule
Flash Forward 2010 Group Show Thursday evening is the public opening for
the Flash Forward 2010 Group Show, a selection of works from the United States, Great
Britain, and Canada featured last fall in the Festival's debut in Toronto; among other
U.S. photographers present in the show include regional artists Claire Beckett, Jonathan
Gitelson, S. Billie Mandle, and Kevin Van Aelst.
Fresh Works: A Sampler of New England Photographers Friday evening's public
opening celebrates Fresh Works: A Sampler of New England Photographers, an exhibition of ten regional
photographers selected by Paula Tognarelli of the Griffin Museum of Photography and
the PRC's George Slade. The ten selected are Meg Birnbaum, Christopher Chadbourne, Greg
J. Hayes, Katie Koti, Steven Keirstead, Rachel Loischild, Holly Lynton, Toni Pepe, Camilo
Ramirez, and Jo Ann Walters.
The Griffin Museum of Photography invited photographers Meg Birnbaum, Christopher
Chadbourne, Steven Keirstead, Rachel Loischild and Holly Lynton to exhibit in Fresh
Works. All five photographers reside in Massachusetts.
The Photographic Resource Center invited Greg J. Hayes, Katie Koti, Toni Pepe, Camilo
Ramirez, and Jo Ann Walters. All photographers are from Massachusetts except Jo Ann
Walters who resides in Connecticut.
Exhibit Statement New England's photographic bounty is plentiful due in
part to the tremendous conflux of influence from its universities, cultural institutions
and gallery sphere. Fresh Works is an exhibition assembled by Paula Tognarelli of the
Griffin Museum of Photography and George Slade of the Photographic Resource Center. It is
not a definitive description of New England photography but an eclectic sampling of ten
contemporary New England photographers rising on the scene with bodies of work that are
now just being shaped to fruition.
Birnbaum is most noted for her timeless photographs of New England county fairs.
In a break from tradition, in her newest body of work, Birnbaum departs from the safe and
simple mores of a great American pastime in search of a more colorful cultural plane.
Birnbaum's Person/Persona examines "the transformative power of costume-wearing and the
creation of alter egos."
In juxtaposed environmental portraits, Birnbaum presents her subjects as costumed alter
egos contrasted to their conscious, everyday selves. The viewer experiences the
transformation through side-by-side comparisons of the portraits as a whole. As example,
Donna, wife and soccer mom gently morphs into Alexanderia the Great, Queen of Extreme and
underwater escape artist. As singular images it is difficult to imagine either as Other.
Even physical characteristics seem incongruous. As diptych portraits, however, the viewer
sees the role evolution as both active and plausible.
Birnbaum's focus has been to artfully explore and document a counterculture of people in
New England who utilize costumes in their lives. Additionally though, as a side bar,
there is a social context present as well. Some subjects in Person/Persona have expressed
how costumes have altered their lives and led them through personal struggle. Birnbaum
speaks of the project as having changed her, as witness. She says the process made her
better able to appreciate "the infinite ways of finding community and building personal
What irony it is that shielding oneself can produce kinship and understanding. Further
still is "costume" always described in the physical sense? Carl Jung noted in Two Essays
on Analytical Psychology (1953) that, " the persona is a kind of mask designed on the one
hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true
nature of the individual." The social face need not lie behind a tangible barrier to be
While not the photographer's intent, Person/Persona may also speak to social
connectedness. In our anonymous virtual world where identity is masked by aliases and
visual avatars, one could say that every day life is now like a costume party.
Connections become more at arms length or veiled behind bits and digits. Identity is
disposable. It can be changed with a click of a mouse or by changing robes and bravado.
Intimacy is obscured behind a virtual costume. The text message has supplanted the phone
call. We have changed what it means to connect to another. Oh not so brave new world!
Chadbourne has photographed 11 state fairs to date moving quietly and unnoticed
through a sea of people at each one. For his project The Last Living Munchkin from the
Wizard of Oz and Other Stories from the State Fair, Chadbourne looks for subject matter
in the sizzle, the bravado and the bizarre rather than in the prescribed romantic view of
an American institution. He photographs the teeming crowd, looking for "sweating
diversity" and sensual overload that oozes of quirkiness.
Others have photographed the fair with an eye to the past. Chadbourne's images suggest
the now. He points his camera towards a modern underbelly that is loud and brash and
filled with broad, bold strokes of color and anonymous shadow. His people have secrets
held behind frail gesture. Their backdrop is the urban landscape of the fairground. There
is something very familiar here yet very foreign all at the same time. We see ourselves
overstated in the mix.
Chadbourne's images take their shape from his unique personal vision and yet suggest a
more pointed influence. Magnum photographer, Constantine Manos has mentored Chadbourne
since a workshop in 2009. Photographer Stella Johnson critiqued and edited State Fair to
its present form. Magnum photographer Alex Webb and photographer Rebecca Norris Webb
assisted Chadbourne in the preparation of a soon-to-be-released book. It is a wealth of
experience and veteran wisdom that has teased out and successfully guided Chadbourne to
the completion of State Fair.
Keirstead in Water, Land, Edifice explores the landscape of the coastal region
of the Maine Gulf from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia. He is interested in how people
interact with the land and sea around them while adapting to the natural environment.
Often he documents how we humans use the land or alter it from its original use like
burning wild blueberry fields to control weed growth. He photographs farm fields, water,
agricultural architecture and sea vessels all found within the landscape.
Keirstead utilizes a two-picture format as his final expression. By exposing one negative
and then moving the camera to capture a second adjacent and alternative view, Keirstead
generates the feeling of a panoramic image. The diptych view gives more of a sense of
place than a single photograph could convey.
As a young child, Keirstead lived in Southeast Asia with his family. Inspired by his past
and by Japanese printmaking and painting, Keirstead uses elements in his photographs that
represent this Asian influence. For example, as his signature mark, Keirstead has created
a red icon that is reminiscent of an East Asian stamp chop or name seal. In addition, all
of his images are devoid of any human presence, although animals and man-made artifacts
are included. Keirstead may introduce evidence that humans inhabit the land by including
a tractor, for example or a building structure enveloped by a vista.
Keirstead divides the composition of his photographs over two panels like a Fusuma or
Japanese sliding screen. He prints a black frame around his images that is again
reminiscent of the black lacquered frames of Japanese screens. His final presentation of
the landscape creates the illusion of a window's view into the world.
In East Asian tradition the landscape is artistically the most prestigious of
expressions. Keirstead with Water, Land, Edifice has disclosed to us those places that
are special and unique for him. With each diptych Keirstead articulates his sense of
belonging and attachment to the land of the Maine Gulf Coast. He lets us know that what
we are seeing is not just anywhere but a very, very remarkable place.
Loischild says that much of her work is centered on the concept of home and
domesticity. In her ongoing project Estate Sales, Loischild studies what remains of a New
England family home as its material contents are set to be disposed in public sale.
Loischild documents the rooms of estate sale homes and the items within these rooms just
prior to public access. Like an anthropologist, she captures the essence of a family life
that once flowed and pulsed along a dwelling's halls. These domestic spaces emerge now
laid to rest as still life monuments to yesterday; each room a time capsule preserved as
diorama; each object a relic, once personal treasure. Posterity is only a temporary
illusion though as the photograph is now the only evidence of a life that coursed within.
What is also present but not seen in Estate Sales is the latent after image. Each
photograph moves the viewer to a conjuring moment of personal context, when the private
view becomes public. One can see the public spectacle. It is the price tag and the
harried barter that now defines the value of the remnants of one's life. It is the
rifling through of bureau drawers and rolled up rugs. It is barren walls and detritus. It
is a house that is no longer home to its past occupants. It is anticipation.
Holly Lynton moved to
Massachusetts' farmland from the hustle of New York to find a simple and balanced life.
The lifestyle she chose is one where she could connect better to the land; where everyday
life could present an opportunity to strengthen the connections between her own life, her
community and the land around her. In living as a locavore (eating locally, sustainably
and organically) she unexpectedly found a spiritual connection to life's deepest values.
Her body of work Bare Handed grew indirectly out of her lifestyle change and newfound
Bare Handed began as photographs of individuals who expose themselves to the dangers in
nature. She photographed beekeepers who use no protective gear to separate themselves
from the sting of the honeybees they tend, and catfish noodlers who use their hands as
bait despite the fishes' toothy jaws.
After observing a deep sense of respect for nature in people who confront animals in the
wild, Lynton began to see a connection to the people who worked with animals on farms in
her community. Each group seemed to have a mutual and profound reverence for animals. She
noticed that both groups enter into a transformative consciousness while interacting with
animals whether in the wild or in a domestic setting. Lynton's image Turkey Madonna
illustrates this notion so eloquently as a woman plucks four birds in rhythmic and
Bare Handed is a testament to Lynton's and her subjects' convictions about the land,
about nature and about collective consciousness. Perhaps too it is a vehicle to help
cultivate our thinking about sustainable living and our earth's limited natural
The Griffin Museum of Photography is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am - 5 pm; Friday
11 am - 4 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, noon - 4 pm. The Museum is closed on Monday.
Admission is $5 for adults; $2 for seniors. Members and children under 12 are admitted
free. Admission is free to all every Thursday. For more information, call 781-729-1158.