From the early days of the pandemic in March, 2020 to the close of the calendar year, Prairie Arts Center offered to take Porch Portraits for anyone in Stillwater interested in helping us capture this very unique moment in our personal and shared histories. The concept was simple: for a few minutes at a set time, everyone in a household gathered on the porch (or deck, stoop, community yard, etc.) and one of our photographers took photographic portraits from a safe distance. Our aim was very simple- to document, memorialize, and capture our community during an unprecedented time. We were very aware of being a part of history and wanted to do what we could to remember and celebrate the resilience of Stillwater and its citizens. The images taken comprise our virtual Porch Portraits gallery.
When the center re-opened in June, we felt compelled to take the Porch Portraits into the realm of the physical so that they could be viewed by visitors to the center. Initially, we printed the photographs traditionally and uniformly and considered framing them that way. No one felt particularly inspired by that option, however, and the project was set aside as we focused on our re-opening plans. It was only when the idea of printing the images on velum was brought up, that inspiration hit. Somehow the idea of these images requiring light shining through them in order to be understood and fully realized felt true to the experience of the lockdown. It was also appealing to us that the images were taken in by the viewer not as individual works, but as pieces of a larger whole- a larger whole that is organic, connected, and natural.
We titled our piece "Illuminating Connections" and it can be seen now through Feb. 14th in Modella Art Gallery's current exhibition, Faces of Covid. Modella is located at 721 S. Main Street and they are open Thursday and Friday from 11-6 and 10-3 on Saturdays.