Local artists capture Vermont through photographs

A local gallery is showcasing a series of photographs with two things in common: an entire state, and the culture within it.

The series “Eyes That Can See” is on display now at the New City Galerie on Church Street, and features work by 57 photographers.

The show is curated by Monika Rivard, a graduate of the California College of the Arts and a former artist-in-residence at the New City Galerie.  

The shared theme of the show is the state of Vermont as seen through photographs of people and places taken here.

The photographers r1ange in age from 12 to 79 years old. Some had never printed photos or been part of an art show, while others are professional photographers and instructors, Rivard said.

Rivard herself did not include her own work in the show. Her photography was shown previously at the Gallery from July to December last year.

“The voice of 57 people is much more louder, and more powerful, and more beautiful than mine alone,” she said.

Rivard accepted the work of almost everyone who applied.

“I wanted to create a portrait of this state through the voices of many people,” she said.

Joseph Pensak, organizing director and head curator at the Galerie, said part of what made the show special was the selflessness behind it.

“Monika deliberately did not include her own work,” Pensak said, “because she wanted the spotlight to be on everyone else’s work.”

Rivard cites the style of John Szarkowski, the photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan from the 1960s to 1991, as a major influence on her curation of the show.

At the time, Szarkowski brought artists into the MoMa who were making personal and humane photographs, she said.

“I’m very influenced by his work, and I have a deep respect for the history of photography,” Rivard said. “That was the most romantic period of photography for me — there was something so honest and genuine.”

The title of the show was pulled from the words of Jack Kerouac, an author known as a member of the Beat Generation in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Kerouac wrote the introduction to a book titled The Americans by Robert Frank, a photographer of the same period.

In the last line of this introduction, Kerouac writes,  “you got eyes.”

Rivard said she sees Kerouac’s quote as important to understanding the special quality behind good photography. The series is full of artists with eyes that can see and capture magic on camera, Rivard said.

The show is a “thank you” from Rivard to Vermont and the New City Galerie for giving her opportunities to further her work as a photographer when she first moved to the state, she said.

The series runs until Jan. 24.