Meet Your Neighbor, Despite the Pandemic

Pictured Above: Fran: Duck carver, stroke survivor from photographer Lindsay Morris’s “Meet Your Neighbor” series.

The Arts Center at Duck Creek in Springs has launched “Meet Your Neighbor,” an exhibition of multimedia photography by artist Lindsay Morris, a revealing and haunting dive into the neighborhoods around us.

 The show will be open to the public Oct. 3 through 31, Friday through Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at 127 Squaw Road, Springs, East Hampton.

In March of this year, a large percentage of the global population was instructed to shelter in place. The opportunity to approach her neighbors vanished, and almost overnight this project took on new meaning.

In this exhibition, Lindsay Morris presents an ongoing series of art documenting some of the last of Eastern Long Island’s small houses.

According to the U.S. census, the size of a typical single-family home expanded from 983 to 2,500 square feet between 1950 and 2012. Once an identifier of the intimate nature of a “small town,” these modest homes are now frequently torn down to make way for a home with a much larger footprint.

Ms. Morris is guided in the project by questions like “who are the people who live next door? What are their lives like? What do they care about?” She put herself inside foreign but familiar homes, photographing foreign but familiar faces and personal objects that told something of their history.

In her studio, Morris extracted the images of these (historic/tiny/modest) homes from their original sites, and “moved” them into images of the now rare open spaces found in her community.

These weathered dwellings, hovering dreamlike over their newly appointed landscapes, offer the viewer a reverent moment to appreciate the safety and intimacy of small towns throughout America. Recordings of these neighbors, made in the early stages of the project, are integrated into the exhibit.

As Ms. Morris worked on this exhibition, New York began grappling with being the state first and hardest hit by the Covid-19 virus.

The tone of two terms describing this series, “shelter” and “place,” suddenly took on a complexity that could not have been foreseen. Although home represents a place of order, being confined to our houses (regardless of size) due to a global pandemic is far from the charm of a seasonal blizzard or blackout.

Our houses grew smaller as the news grew more bleak, and our proximity to one another, without routine or autonomy, made living under one roof challenging.

The works are not only a meditation on the changing landscape of our towns, but how crucial our interconnectedness is to our survival.

On Oct. 17, from 7 to 10 p.m, Ms. Morris will present a series of portraits and related recordings of her neighbors, the people who dwell in homes similar to those depicted in this exhibit.

“The stories and faces of my neighbors are different, but the way I photograph them is the same,” she says. “I ask them to present me with a personal object that fits in their hand, giving them a chance to reflect on something familiar, but important. I photograph the object and record them telling the story behind it. Eventually, I take a portrait.”

In collaboration with multimedia artist Christine Sciulli, these poignant images and recordings will be projected on the buildings at Duck Creek on Oct. 17, reminding us of the not so distant past when these buildings too were inhabited by artists, farmers and families like ours.

Ms. Morris’s current exhibitions include “Global Images for Global Crisis” at The International Center of Photography, and “A Small Taste of Freedom” at the Guild Hall Museum, where she is exhibiting a series of quarantine portraits in collaboration with the Guild Hall Teen Arts Council.

Christine Sciulli is a visual artist whose primary medium is projected light. Her projection installations have been shown in the US and abroad including the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2014 Invitational Exhibition, Guild Hall Museum, Shirley Fiterman Art Center, Parrish Art Museum and in international light and music festivals.

More information on “Meet Your Neighbor” is online here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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