Fine Arts Museum News

Photo Exhibit Focuses on Impermanence

Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

July 21, 2011

Photographer Jessie Carleton creates and photographs still life compositions inspired by traditional Dutch vanitas (vanity) paintings that were designed as reminders of the transient nature of life and the certainty of death. The photos are now on view at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts through October 9 in the special exhibition Tabletops: Photographs by Jessie Carleton.

Carleton uses common vanitas symbols such as rotting fruit, decaying plants, smoke, bubbles, watches, hour glasses, etc., to convey the age-old message in a contemporary medium. Her work also expresses environmental concerns about food production, preservation, transportation and waste. She began the project by photographing food she had purchased but not consumed and which had begun to rot. The plastic bags, paper towels and store-bought food containers that appear in some of her photos are a reminder of our modern relationship to food and where it comes from.

Carleton is originally from Suffield, Connecticut, and is currently living and working in Stow, Massachusetts.

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