They are community volunteers and couples at home, in other words “everyday folks.” And photographer Jan van Steenwijk captures their lives.
Ordinary People, an exhibit culled from two bodies of his work produced in Bedford, MA, from 2000 to 2004 is featured at The Griffin Museum at the Cambridge Homes, 360 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, September 6 through November 6. An opening reception is September 13, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Van Steenwijk, who was born in the Netherlands, has created portraits of many famous people from the Queen of Denmark to photographer Ansel Adams. But, he’s also photographed regular people such as unemployed factory workers in Flint, Michigan.
One of Steenwijk’s series on exhibit at Cambridge Homes is a tribute to volunteers who, he says, “offer a tremendous amount of time to their communities without every seeking recognition.”
He adds, “their singular efforts help weave the fabric of our society, forming a sturdy foundation. Common to all of them is dedication, commitment, and generosity of spirit.” Each photograph is accompanied by text telling the person’s individual story.
The second series documents 25 couples at home. These portraits are also presented with handwritten life histories which, Steenwijk says, offer ” a tremendous source of information for future viewers about what we thought and the way we lived at the turn of the 21st century. Handwriting, seemingly a dying art going the way of the dinosaur, should similarly be captured for posterity.”
All the original material has been donated to the Bedford Historical Society.
Van Steenwijk’s photographs have been exhibited in Asia, Europe, and the United States and have been published in numerous books and magazines. He is the author of three books, USAROUND and Always on the Road, chronicling his first trip to America in 1982, and a children’s book, Purple Turtle – The Mysterious Fellow. He also has designed and edited many publications. Van Steenwijk moved to Bedford in 1989 and immediately became involved in community activities. He currently is president of the Bedford Historical Society.
The public is welcome to view the exhibit Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please check in with the receptionist.