Local artist and educator Lindy Whiton chronicled a local heron rookery every day for six months during the pandemic. She was able to watch the entire process of 23 birds arriving, mating, sitting eggs, fledging and redistributing to other waterways and she documented it all, both in photographs and in text.
on display at LAVA in May and June 2021
Words from Lindy:
“When lockdown happened in March of 2020 we were all forced to be quiet, be alone and take heed. My usual way of avoiding depression, boredom or just feeling confused by disability and retirement was to go to the Y and get in the pool with a community of people and then to head for Green Fields Market for lunch, seeking out my friends and the crossword puzzle. They were good strong distractions and kept my head and heart above water. All of a sudden they were not available; what was available were my backyard and the emergence of spring and birds. I made a backyard bird chart and began keeping it like I would have done in a classroom. This prompted some poems and eventually the decision to take a daily ride searching for birds. I discovered places that drew different birds. One such place was a rookery that herons had carved into a beaver pond in the hills by a farm. More and more herons arrived and created by June a community of 23 birds. I was able to watch the entire process of birds arriving, mating, sitting eggs, fledging and redistributing to other waterways and I was able to document it all, both in photographs and text.
“This project took my life over and pulled together my strengths as a learner, and a researcher as well as developing my photography skills. Nature photography demands a level of patience beyond what I was used to. Taking pictures of a rookery over 6 months forced me to slow way down, meditate, listen and begin to feel one with the on-going world, beyond COVID.
“I did this process alone. What I hope this show allows me is a chance to interact with a community about what I learned from what I did. I also hope that I prompt others to use this pictures and words to create their own works.
“The show consists of 2 parts: a gallery show of 20 photographs of the rookery, and a slide show of the 6 months with an audio track of poems I wrote throughout the time span reflecting a juxtaposition of lives. People are welcome to come surround themselves with the colors, textures, and activities of the rookery.”
“Words from the Rookery” will be on display May and June at The LAVA Center. Gallery hours are Sat. 11-2 and Wed. 5-9.
Lindy Whiton has lived in Greenfield, MA all of her adult life. As an artist and educator, she has been shaped by the members and vibrancy of this community. She has been taking pictures since her teens, but it was not until 2009 when her brother Paul gave her a Pentax camera that she began pursuing photography as not only an artist, but as a way to document all of the beauty of life around her during a transformative time. She began blogging about her experiences and documenting those experiences daily. Lindy captures the spirit of life around her even during the darkest of days, which is evidenced by her winsome landscapes and candid portraits. (Biography written by Sarah Lawnson.)
A selected poem:
There is something about the sounds outside
that seems unholy.
Trucks still pour down the highway
Birds hidden in the trees
I can’t name them
Everything else is still.
My ears perk up at the sound
Radio blaring from a single car
headed down the road alone
just the driver
Bass up full tilt.
It took years to dissect
the armour I used to keep me OK during
Identifying bits and pieces
like removing tumors
one by one.
Feeling free of the
locked chest protectors and the helmet
Everything clamped backup tight
including the insipid need
to eat constantly
Surround my body with more flesh
So I can’t be hurt
So I can survive
So I don’t need anything else.
I only hear the buzz of electricity
inside the house
No one calls my name
no one touches my face
no one drapes their lanky body over mine.
The sounds of the outdoors
are unholy. Quiet, creeping
flow of jailed energy
I long for common noise
to take the need for the armour away