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Susan Lapides: St. George and Crustaceans
This month, Susan Lapides has given us two visually different series with close contextual connections. The works of St. George and Crustaceans each beautifully evoke an intimate sense of place, while also advancing a contemplation of the passage of time, and its effect on both land and its people. The land that is the background in each of these works unites both series, because it also gives us a sense of the photographer and her role as a chronicler of place. All photographs were taken in the maritime province of New Brunswick, Canada, in a town situated on the Bay of Fundy. This is a place Lapides has come to know well. Her series on St. George is extensive (go to her website to see more!), and each image adds to the overall narrative she has created, but this small sampling will give the viewer an idea of how a place is shaped through its relationship to its people, its industry, and its natural elements.
Lapides captures a place that seems to be full of dichotomies—a small town with a large industry—and there is both the practical and poetic in these images. Similarly, her portraits in Crustaceans capture young women at different stages, each with a fluctuating relationship to their landscape—they embrace it, are powerful within it, and seem ambivalent to it all at the same time. Ultimately, Lapides succeeds in capturing the transformations of a place through a catalogue of fleeting moments. As she writes, “As friends and neighbors shared antidotes about their home, I recognized it was in flux, and decided to create a more enduring document to speak to the collective memory of the people and the industries of St. George and New Brunswick.”
- Jessica Roscio, Curator, Danforth Art
Visit: Susan Lapides
The photographs of Susan Lapides focus on people, culture, and place. Her subjects range from portraits of visionaries to the fishing communities of New Brunswick, Canada.
A fine art photographer with a strong background in editorial photography, Lapides has exhibits her work widely, including solo exhibitions at Fidelity Investments and the Griffin Photography Museum both in Boston, and Sunbury Shores Art Center and the Saint John Art Centre both in New Brunswick, Canada. Her group exhibitions include the Blue Sky Gallery (Portland, OR), Houston Center for Photography (TX), Rayko Photo Center (San Francisco, CA), Los Angeles Center for Photography, Danforth Art Museum (Framingham, MA), Lesley University (Boston, MA), Panopticon Gallery (Boston, MA). Her fine art work is held in corporations and private collections throughout the United States, Canada, and France. Her editorial images have appeared in Life, Smithsonian, and many other national periodicals. Lapides graduated from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts School. She resides in Cambridge, MA and New Brunswick, Canada.
St. George is a fishing town of 2,800 people and not a single traffic light. It is situated on the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The magnificent bay is known for the highest tides on earth, frigid waters, and dramatic skies. The short maritime summers with long evenings are cherished as a time for gathering around bonfires as they have been for generations.
St. George’s economy is based on its thriving farm raised salmon industry. To give you a sense of the scale, Cooke Aquaculture annually sells more than 160 million pounds of Atlantic Salmon. Because the traditional catch of herring or cod have diminished, independent fishermen now meet the demands of expanding global markets for sea urchins, periwinkles, seaweed, and lobsters.
Being a photographer and new to the Bay of Fundy, I documented our family adventures in this landscape. As friends and neighbors shared antidotes about their home, I recognized it was in flux, and decided to create a more enduring document to speak to the collective memory of the people and the industries of St. George and New Brunswick.
These photographs of girls holding lobsters all share the backdrop of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. The history of this small fishing community of St. George, New Brunswick is tied to lobsters. At one time lobsters stranded in low tide were gathered as food and today they are shipped out worldwide as a delicacy.
These portraits recall pictures of fishermen holding up their “Big Catch,” only here the crustaceans aren’t big. Rather they have a metaphorical weight. Each girl poses, revealing a bit of her personality. Some cradle it, some squirm with their shoulders held tight, some act brave, some raise it over their head as if to say this is just how one holds a lobster. These photographs are of girls, ages 6 to 21, some are photographed multiple years, and all photographs are taken in the same location.
- Susan Lapides