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Kent April 15, 2021

Abigail Horace, photographed by Rebecca Bloomfield for her “Small Town Big Talk” exhibit, which documented residents of Falls Village, Conn., during the pandemic. Bloomfield will discuss her show, currently at the Hunt Library, in an online talk on Saturday, April 10. Photo by Rebecca Bloomfield​

Up Close and Personal With the Residents of Falls Village, Conn.

Photography

Of all the things that have disappeared from country life during the pandemic — the movie theaters, the clamorous, packed restaurants on a Friday night, the summer season of garden party fundraisers — perhaps most noticeable is the absence of the people in your daily routine. 

A pivotal draw of small-town living is the sense of comforting familiarity that comes from knowing not just your neighbors, but your librarian, your barista, your dentist’s receptionist, the staff at your post office … And of course, knowing you could run into someone who knows you at any time, with all kinds of things to tell you. The smallest of errands can suddenly turn into a half hour standing in the pharmacy as you take in an epic tale involving two properties for sale, an intergenerational feud and some pesky knotwood. 

The catch-ups, the idle chatter, the fevered gossip and those winding but fascinating conversations color New England as much as the fall foliage.

“Small Town Big Talk,” a civic art project now on display at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village, Conn., was born both out of the spirit of that continuous community conversation and its notable absence during the pandemic. Combining interviews by Adam Sher and portraits by photographer Rebecca Bloomfield, the project provides a window into a small town both steeped in safety-induced isolation while also connected by a sense of thoughtfulness. 

In the text portion of their “Small Town” portraits, Falls Village residents like Judy Jacobs of Jacobs Garage, Ann Bidou of the former Toymakers Cafe and Housatonic Valley Regional High School teacher Vance Canon consider topics like the fear of being misunderstood, the difficulty of courteous conversation when the issues feel too big or too personal, their ecological hopes for the future and the noise of the digital age of information. 

Supported by a grant from Bridging Divides, Healing Communities, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Sher and Bloomfield’s interviews are an optimistic demonstration that life continues on despite the strangest of situations. 

Even in the most miniature of rural towns, residents are thinking of their neighbors, of the world at large, and contemplating how best to navigate the future. 

With their subjects draped in fresh snow (the photographs were taken through the end of 2020 and the start of 2021), the photos by Bloomfield have a regal, solemn quality — these are New England residents not on the go, but standing quietly in nature with their own thoughts.

Rebecca Bloomfield and Adam Sher, along with Hunt Library assistant Meg Sher, will be led in an online conversation by Amy Wynn on Saturday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. To register for this presentation go to www.huntlibrary.org or call 860-824-7424.

“Small Town Big Talk” is on display at the Hunt Library through May 28. To see the project online go to www.huntlibrary.org/art-wall.  In-person visiting hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

“Small Town Big Talk” the hardcover photo book is available for purchase at the library for $60.

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