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A Vermont Photographer's Thoughts

Living Connections/Hands   February 21, 2012

Living Connections/Hands

Andreas and Tracy at the bagel shop in Burlington.

During 2010 and 2011 I spent some time traveling Vermont taking photos for an exhibit called Living Connection:Voices and Visions from Shared Lives. This exhibit captures the voices and experiences of individuals with and without disabilities. Their shared stories and experiences point out new directions for disability services and reflect the transformative power of inclusion and self advocacy.

I traveled with my friend Deborah Lisi-Baker, who had encouraged me to work on this project with her, and to apply for the grant that funded it. Deborah interviewed the individuals and I photographed them. She is a long time advocate for those who cope with disabilities in their lives.

Our focus was the relationship between individuals with developmental disabilities and those who share their homes, their lives, aid in facilitated conversation, help them find work,play sports, exercise, and just be together.

The experience of photographing these relationships was transformative for me as well. I was overwhelmed with the connections I saw in each pair or group we met. The Vermonters I met shared strong bonds that seemed to me unbreakable. In other words I found an enormous amount of love and respect for each other. I also found laughter.

The final exhibit will include ten panels of text and images that I designed. The photo session I did were not in controlled lighting situations as I would find in my studio. I was shooting candid, flash on camera shots,dealing with whatever obstacles were there. The final session I shot was in a crowded garage with a motorbike in the background during a rain storm! My goal was trying capture the relationships I saw....some of the images are posed...and some were grabbed..some were wonderful accidents. One of the things I looked for during each shot were details of the connections......hands..eyes...touch. When I designed the panels I didn't have room for many of those images. I wanted to share some in this blog.

The exhibit will open in the Statehouse in Montpelier in March.

Harvey providing minimal support as Tracy types...communicates.

Harvey providing minimal support as Tracy types...communicates.

Linda massaging Ronnie\

Linda massaging Ronnie's hands.

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