Craig J. Barber
There is a growing disconnect between our continuing ideal of rural America and its decaying reality, where decades of cultural and governmental neglect have created a depressing landscape of fallow fields and distressed communities that have taken to turning in on themselves, aiding their own continuing obsolescence.
My project, Rural New York, examines the decay of once-prosperous small towns, villages and farm land in upstate New York. The rich and ghostly nature of my photographs of fallow landscapes and lifeless, decaying villages, imbued with my own memory of growing up in a small New York farming community, provides an empathetic point of entry for those seeking to understand the emotional wallop of living in such terrains, where the past seems to be overtaking all that is present or future. Physical landscapes effect our emotions which effect the way we see ourselves fitting into larger worlds.
Rural New York seeks to de-sentimentalize our appreciation of American rural life by focusing on the realities that when the places, people and everyday habits we once treasured are allowed to whither. The desired effect is to increase the viewer’s recognition and understanding of the continuing importance rural America plays in our nation’s destiny, hopefully helping to trigger an eventual catharsis of change.
Craig J. Barber is known for his quiet and provocative landscape photographs and is recognized as one of today’s premier platinum printers. His photographs have been exhibited in more than fifty solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions. His work is represented in several public and private collections including the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City, and the Biblioteque Nationale de France in Paris. Barber lives in the Hudson Valley of New York State and teaches photography at workshops throughout the United States and Europe.
Craig J. Barber’s project Rural New York, successfully combines the great beauty of his photographic images with the strength of the content he wants to convey. Barber seeks to “de-sentimentalize our appreciation of American rural life and make us aware of its present decaying reality where decades of cultural and governmental neglect have created a depressing landscape of fallow fields and distressed communities that have taken to turning in on themselves.” Without any doubt, the artist has achieved his goal of making us aware of this social reality and, in doing so, has given us a gift a harmony and beauty, the same qualities that he would like, ideally to regenerate in the real Rural New York.
Liliana Porter is a Hudson Valley resident who currently teaches Art at Queens College in the City University of New York. An award winning artist whose talent has garnered her a 1980 Guggenheim and three NYFA grants, Ms. Porter has shown her work at venues internationally and is represented by the Todd Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco, CA and in collections including the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires.