“IMAGES FROM THE CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY”: A PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT BY CHRISTOPHER CURTIS
From July 1 to September 1, 2015 the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum hosted “Images from the Connecticut River Valley,” an exhibition of landscape photographs full of energy and emotion taken by environmental planner and artist Christopher Curtis.
“Images from the Connecticut River Valley” showcased Christopher Curtis’s 30 years of experience photographing nature, haunting rural landscapes, and other subject matter through two series of images: “Looking at Rivers” and “Ghosts and Machines.”
“Looking at Rivers” captured the energy and beauty Christopher Curtis finds in the wild streams and rivers of western Massachusetts. In his work as an environmental planner, he has spent the better part of a lifetime working to clean up and protect rivers; in his work as a photographer, he has captured the beauty and movement of these rivers. Walking streams along their entire length, from confluence to source, allows him to experience their personalities, to listen to the sounds they make, and particularly to look at the ever-changing patterns of moving water, light and color. Curtis spends many of his weekends kayaking, swimming and hiking along rivers, which has connected him to the waters of western Massachusetts in a very profound way. The photographs in the “Looking at Rivers” series include images of the Connecticut and Westfield Rivers, as well as many other small tributary streams and brooks. Curtis returns to the same streams again and again to make photographs; they are never the same twice.
“Ghosts and Machines” turns from the environmental to the mechanical, exploring the old abandoned farm vehicles from the 1930’s and 40’s that lie decomposing behind barns and in the woods bordering farmland of the Connecticut River Valley. They are beautiful hulks of rust, eroding metal, and slow decay, with layered, fading paint and sunlight filtering through old cracked glass windows. Like half-buried ancient monuments or tombs, these vehicles echo an agricultural way of life now slowly vanishing from the Connecticut River Valley. By depicting these old trucks as they sink and erode into the landscape, the “Ghosts and Machines” photographs reflect on nature’s reclamation of human creations, as the vehicles become partially submerged in mud, covered with weeds in the summer, and merge back into the earth again.
Christopher Curtis studied photography at the University of Colorado, and his work has been exhibited in numerous one-person and group shows, including at Greenfield Community College, the Vermont Center for Photography, Franklin County Arts Council, Northampton Center for the Arts, University of Nebraska, Greentrees Gallery, University of Colorado, and Alfredo’s Photographic Gallery.