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North Adams: Beyond Place

Storefront with broken mirror, North Adams

Young boy, North Adams

Angel with poodle and broken hand, North Adams

Building corner, North Adams

Young woman at bus stop, North Adams

Small town with big sky above in the valley of a mythical mountain.

A mill town once for a very, very long time that seemed like forever. Everyone worked in one or another making things. Shoes, bricks, textiles, hats, cabinets… the list goes on. And when one of the biggest companies no longer could make money, a great electric company took over and prosperity continued again. For a while. But not even the powerful torrent of a river could keep things going in face of changing times. These days art is “manufactured” in the former Sprague Electric Company.

North Adams, where I got to spent some time this past summer working for a cultural organization (not Mass MoCA). The images above are part of yet another project started recently. There’s something about North Adams, as well as most of the former mill towns in the Berkshires. History, nature, the people. The place has presence. It does. It wants to be noticed and cared for and, dare I say, loved in spite of the troubles small towns grapple with.

But what makes a place? A confluence of the people who live there, the structures they inhabit, the roads and streets, the businesses, shops, the surroundings.

Photography allows for a kind of immediacy that makes it the best conduit to explore these ways of being in a time and place. Photography does capture but releases, starting a story to behold.

Doing some preliminary research on the history of North Adams, I found out that the Hoosic River, which flows through the town and has provided the indispensable power needed for past industries, derives its name from the Alonquian language. Hoosic River translates as: the beyond place. It literary refers to the fact that the river, a tributary of Hudson River,  flows beyond, or east of, the Hudson. For my project I want to expand on the notion of being of and at the same time beyond a place as a universal human condition. Using photography to poetically interpret the present time as it relates to history, nature, need for beauty and form. To begin with.

Many thanks for looking and please feel comfortable to comment.



Cathy L Stewart - Very powerful work! I am excited by the project, the evocative images of the past in the present…the young people trying to find the future… I love the concept you write about here, how photography “captures but releases”— Look forward to more!

Monika Sosnowski - Thank you Cathy! I very much appreciate your feedback.

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