This building is a bit of a throwback to late 19th century architecture. The look, captured here in beautiful black and white and coupled with what appears to be a crisp winter afternoon, gives it that nostalgic touch. It has the type of look that would prompt a person with real memories of WWII to proudly point and exclaim “Now that’s when buildings were buildings!”  Reminiscent of New York City’s legendary Flatiron Building and the sight of what appears to be construction workers toiling away on the lower right makes me wonder if, much like the famous NYC landmark, this structure houses a few blue collar businesses. I’m reminded that the Flatiron Building was home to J. Jonah Jameson’s Daily Bugle in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. I see the open window and picture the frazzled editor shaking his fist and screaming “GET ME FOOTAGE OF SPIDERMAN! HE’S A MENACE TO THE CITY!” as his army of newsboys storm by yelling “EXTREE! EXTREE! READ ALL ABOUT IT!” to passersby in a familiar Roaring Twenties accent. Or perhaps this is simply your average office building where small talk reigns supreme and merely getting to Friday is as anticipated as Christmas Day. So many possibilities. 

OFF THE GRID Collection, 2016. Digital Photograph. ©OFF THE GRID. All rights reserved.


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This collection is the result of a generous donation from Dr. William U. and Jensie Shipley.

One cold and snowy New England winter, adults living in an emergency homeless shelter were offered a camera, weekly mentoring and basic photography skills; they were encouraged to “go out and take photographs that tell your story’' with the promise that their images would find an audience during exhibition. The goal of this project was to offer a voice to people who often feel excluded and who are frequently misunderstood. The name OFF THE GRID speaks to the experience of being outside and looking in. Becoming homeless is not part of a person’s life plan. It is often the result of spiraling circumstances: illness, loss of job, death of a family member, inadequate health insurance, addiction, divorce, inadequate housing.

During this 6 month photography project that ended with the coming of summer sunshine, the focus of attention of participants went beyond feelings of frustration and powerlessness. Like peeling away the layers of an onion, over time and with developing trust, the images and the photographers' words began to reflect a deeper sense of hope and beauty that we believe is the full expression of human resilience when suffering is given the opportunity for self expression. There are many reasons why we should care about people who are faced with this devastating experience. Even if you don't have a family member or friend living in this situation, then it is simply important to care about people because we are all connected in some way.

Enjoy the exhibit and next time you pass by someone who is homeless, say hello and remember that there is a person of potential and courage beyond the label of “homeless.”

Alison Brookes MD, Susan Ogan MS MSW, Joanne G. Paul, photographer

Other work from OFF THE GRID