|For the last 25 years, my husband Mike and I have been coming up to Leelanau County in all four seasons. And about twelve years ago, for some reason, I became more interested in some of the old barns we’d see along route 640 and 629 on the way to the cottage.
So I started taking photos. When I looked at the prints, I could see that one of the barns, the red barn close to the road surrounded by beautiful old trees on 629 near the burm looked the same in each season but another one on Route 640 before the bight no longer looked stately. It seemed to be deteriorating and taking on different shapes, shadows, and colors each season.
So I decided to take photos of that barn as it deteriorated even more–at first because I wanted to document its decline. But then those changes began to fascinate me enough to want to keep on taking pictures. Over the course of ten years, I began to look at these changes as a potential painting; possibly, a large canvas of interconnected images.
But that idea never materialized. But when Deb Stannard, the Leelanau Township librarian at the time invited me to display my art at the library, I decided to put all of those barn photos together to see if I could come up with an exhibit.The Leighton family, who owned the barn, graciously gave me permission to show my photos, along with photos that Deb Van Pelt took of the barn’s controlled burn in 2011. But if I was going to show all these photos as a series, I sensed that something else was still missing. So after the controlled burn, I continued to take photos of the regrowth inside the foundation, and the renewal growth of the surrounding area.
Then I did the library exhibit in 2012. In 2016 I happened to show the contact sheet to Mary Beth Pope, a writer, who, as it turns out, lives across the road from the barn. We compared impressions of the barn’s slow deterioration. It was then that we decided to collaborate.Mary Beth wrote the essay “Changing Seasons, Changing Shapes” which included some of my barn photos. Both were published in Spring 2016 in Still Point Art Quarterly, Issue No. 21. Even though I took them in color the photos that were published along with the essay were in black-and white. And the editor also didn’t include the photo of the original standing barn.
That’s when Mary Beth and I hatched the idea of reading her essay and me showing my barn photos at the Leelanau Township Library. We both wanted to present the essay/photo collaboration in the way we’d originally conceived it.
And so, I put together a short power point presentation of my photos along with Vavaldi’s ‘Four Seasons”, a piece that represented the slow decline of the barn and the rebirth of the surrounding land.
Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe I can get back to my original idea; which is, to put together a single narrative painting, a canvas that visually depicts this slow transformation in much the same way as Mary Beth’s essay has done through language and written images.