A Sheaf of Stories
The telling of stories must be as old as the first campfires, keeping away the dark. Along with the light of the fire, the stories draw the listeners together and build community. They are a way to transfer information by putting it into a framework that facilitates understanding and provides an avenue to remembrance. The stories let us share feelings. They help to define the similarities and differences among us and build personal connections. While the presentation of stories started with the oral tradition, it has evolved into the written narrative and the dramatic presentation.
Dramatic presentations inspired the long-standing metaphor of viewing the world as a stage, with each of us playing our parts. My introduction to Venice as I stepped from the Santa Lucia train station immediately brought this metaphor to mind. Stepping onto the plaza in front of the station was like moving from a theatre lobby into the seating area. The golden afternoon light on the Church of San Simeone Piccolo, across the canal, defined the stage. Unlike in the theatre, I now had the chance to step out of the darkness and onto the stage.
The implication that accompanies the metaphor is that we each act out our parts while thinking we know the stories of the other actors. Similarly, an aspect of travel photography is the challenge of documenting, in a distinctive way, the places that we think we know because we have seen so many pictures of them. The people and their stories are unique in any location, and they provide a way of breaking through the difficulty of false familiarity. By walking onto the stage and focusing on the other actors, I wanted to forget my story and think about the stories of the people around me as a way of experiencing the daily and weekly rhythms of a place
In this body of work I’ve focused on people viewed at distances defined by the scale of human interaction. I have not tried to define one story. I chose to feature an anthology of individuals, with their work, families, and neighborhoods. They are the building blocks from which I invite you to construct stories.
As a geologist and teacher, Vicki McKenna started taking photographs to illustrate concepts to her students. Soon she became intrigued by the challenges of representing a three-dimensional world with an engaging, two-dimensional image. With her geological background, it is not surprising that McKenna is drawn to photograph the natural landscape. However, her interests are broad-ranging, and a fascination with architecture means she is also interested in the built environment. She often uses long exposures and alternative light sources, either at night or with infrared light.
McKenna has had juried solo shows at the Newton Free Library and the gallery in the Harvard Vanguard offices, Cambridge, MA. Her work has appeared in numerous juried group shows at the Danforth Museum: Community of Artists (2013) and Off the Wall (2012); the Cambridge Art Association: Platinum (2014), the 12th National Prize Show (2013) and Blue (2012); and PhotoPlace Gallery.
McKenna has studied photography at the New England School of Photography and the Photography Atelier at the Griffin Museum of Photography, and taken workshops with Alison Shaw, Stephen Johnson and Peter Turnley. She has a PhD in Geological Sciences from Brown University and an ALB in Natural Sciences from Harvard University.
Contact Vicki McKenna