Barbara Krakow Gallery is honored to present Shellburne Thurber’s first solo project in eight years. After an incredibly busy decade with projects at the Bloomberg Space in London, the Boston Athenaeum, the ICA, Boston, the MFA, Boston, the Weatherspoon in North Carolina, as well as at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Shellburne hunkered down on several new projects, with 9 Wellington Street being the most personal. Known as the one Boston School photographer who chose to stay in Boston, Shellburne uses this exhibition to engage issues of individuality, vision, commitment, community, support and home.
The story goes like this: for years, two friends of Shellburnes kept telling her that she should meet a gentleman named Ralph Horne who lived in their South End neighborhood in Boston. They felt that Shellburne and Ralph would be simpatico and that she would probably enjoy photographing his house. A true renaissance man, Ralph had been an environmental scientist, a lawyer, a writer and a painter. The friends’ recommendation led to little for a long time, as Ralph traveled often and was rarely available by phone. However, when the two finally met, Shellburne saw how accurate the recommendation was. Moreover, she felt an immediate and strong connection to both the space and the man who had made it his own. For close to seven years, Shellburne photographed the space and interviewed and filmed Ralph, himself. Simultaneously, she helped Ralph put many things in order and eventually helped him move out of the house into a smaller setting where he could live with more ease.
The current exhibition, 9 Wellington Street, displays Shellburne’s photos (both color and black & white, in four varying sizes from 20 x 20 inches to 50 x 50 inches), selected objects formerly of Ralph’s house, all arranged, layered and juxtaposed with patterns and imagery as wallpaper. The two photographic wallpaper elements are of Ralph’s former residence, while the other parts are reproductions of the wallpaper from the residence, mixed with wallpapers that are similar but distinctly different from the ones in the house. Presented in the modernist space of Barbara Krakow Gallery, the exhibition posits the importance of the blurred areas between truth and fiction, narrative and abstraction, individual and universal, all the while telling the story of commitment, both of the subject to a way of life, and the photographer to the need of a story to be shared and the person who’s story it is.