Elaine Schenkel: I am a poet who happened to pick up a camera. Ten years ago I brought my first Point-and-Shoot Sony and started to carry it with me when I wandered through the streets and parks of the Montclair area where I lived. Wandering was something I did instinctively and it often emerged in bodies of poems I wrote, books I read and mused over, images that lived inside of me guiding me with the tonality of their feeling. The camera became my wandering companion. Through it, I was able to capture a collection of images I refer to as Anatomy of Neighborhood: The Poetics of Local Landscape. This body of work explores the question of how we relate to our local environment; what visual depictions are we drawn to, what is our attachment to place ?
I lived in Montclair for 16 years from 1996 – 2012 and spent countless days wandering through her neighborhoods, streets and alleyways. I was always enchanted with the common vibrant sights I encountered along my paths. Resting on the periphery of more typical representations, the images presented here are specific in location but universal in their ordinary extraordinariness. To me they reveal the true meaning of place which presents itself in the unassuming scenes, structures and objects that inhabit our daily surroundings. I’ve also included additional images from other places that I have resided, wherever I plant myself,
I am drawn to similar patterns and scenes which reveal the scope of my poetic sentiment. When shooting these subjects, my entire being was infused with their immediacy and the sheer beauty of their sparse complexity. They present a familiarity and uniqueness, a knowing and mystification, a forceful gravitation which illuminates both seen and unseen worlds.