North Bennington, Vermont: Looking at Small Town America Through A Generation of Self-Portraits
Jay and Sophie Paris, 2021
Twenty-one years ago, in the summer of 2000, two seasoned photojournalists –a father and daughter –came to North Bennington, Vermont to shoot a day in the life of the village, using guided self-portraits with an old fashioned air bulb shutter release to fire off a digital camera. They shot in black and white between sun up and sun down on a Saturday, printed and framed the show overnight and opened it to the community the next day. They had received a grant from the Fund For North Bennington to cover the costs of the project, including the thirty-five prints they would display. Seven years later, the Fund for North Bennington invited them back to do another round of portraits. And then seven years later, they came back again. On August 14, they will return for a fourth shoot, capping a town tradition that will span 21 years.
“This summer marks a full generation of people and places from North Bennington that we’ve photographed,” said Jay Paris, a former photographer for Time/Life, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and numerous other publications, now turned documentary filmmaker.
“Not only have children grown and middle-aged residents become elderly, a gas station became a restaurant, a bakery became a hair salon, and it has gone, reflecting the industrious nature of keeping small towns alive,” added daughter Sophie Paris, a former United Nations photographer who covered events and conflicts from Africa to Haiti.
Several hundred town residents attended the first show, curious to examine the extensive portraits of themselves and each other, as if looking in a broad mirror. They included a volunteer fireman, a banker, the postmaster, a builder of hot rods, a priest, boys who were fishing at a watering hole, a barkeeper, a beekeeper and a college president.
“The faces and storefronts have aged but a lot of the same characters prevail,” said Jay Paris. “The population in 2000 was about 1,650. The population today is about 1,650.”
What links the photos is a spirit of commitment to a place that offers community as it has since 1793 when a salt-glazed stoneware factory was erected along a small river that ebbs through the village. The people who came to North Bennington were willing to labor hard for a living. They still do.
OPENING: August 15th, 1:00pm
Left Bank Gallery at 5 Bank Street, North Bennington, Vermont
On view till August 28th. Digital images will then be viewable on the Fund for North Bennington website.
For more information, and photos, contact Jay Paris firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming in September:
Josh's Fantastical Menagerie
Josh Gray is a 49 year old Down Syndrome person who appreciates life in every moment, spreading smiles, love, and hugs wherever he goes. His passions include music and dancing, food, family and friends, hiking and biking, animals and nature. Josh likes making art because “it makes people feel happy.”
He has fans all over the country and currently resides on Amelia Island.
For more information contact the Rhonda Ratray at
September 1st -30th 2021
on view now:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream..."
Excerpt from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, 1959
ABSOLUTE REALITY is this years incarnation of our annual show inspired by the writing of the author Shirley Jackson. The title was plucked from the opening paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House. “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream..."
Real or imaginary, exquisite renderings of subjective realities.
With works by:
and selected works from private collections
ON VIEW JUNE 26- August 7th
This show is in coordination with the McCullough Library and The Shirley Jackson Foundation. We will be posting a link to view the recorded broadcast of this year's Shirley Jackson Day Celebration (Saturday 6/26).
contact leftbanknorthb@gmail for gallery hours
IN THE MAKING: SELECTED WORKS BY LEE WILLIAMS
Lee's work investigates the relationship between the familiar, the other worldly and the many layers in between. His recent sculptural work has been created using materials that are developed as assemblages or reconfigurations with links to formal or art historical references.
"I have always drawn, made and invented objects and installations exploring and challenging the way I make meaning, finding connections between seemingly disparate things. I am fascinated by the intangibility of time, which we punctuate with markers, like the marks and pauses in musical notation. Weaving together my fascination with the elemental forces of nature, man- made constructions, stories and sensory experiences. In essence exploring my involvement with the human-nature relationship."
Originally from Wales in the UK. Lee Williams studied at Cardiff School of Art, Birmingham School of Art, Goldsmiths University, London and The University of South Wales. He has worked for many educational institutions and colleges in the UK and Ireland and has initiated many artist led projects and socially engaged projects. He currently lives and works in Shaftsbury, VT and is an artist /teacher with Vermont Arts Exchange.
ON VIEW TILL JUNE 19th, 2021 Contact leftbanknorthb@gmail for an appointment.