We don’t often talk about our inabilities. We tend to focus on problems, shortcomings, and the broken systems we have come to accept. About those systems we say ‘if we could only see the problem we might be able to fix it.’ Insert problem here: health care, poverty, education, and inequality. Obviously the list can go on, shifting with each person. We are participants (sometimes the unwilling victims) of things larger than our intellectual vision and us. Often too, that vision is clouded by bias, opinion and misinformation. In that fog it’s difficult to understand how we got there or more importantly why we are stuck.
Weighed down by all that we sometimes lose the ability to truly see people. Those we care about float in our mental periphery but usually those immediately around us, those we don’t quite know yet fade into all that noise. How many articles laud the communities and groups of the past, hark for the bygone days of ‘real human connection’ before social media ruined it all? People formed movements and spoke for their ideas and stood as symbols for the power of interconnectedness. Many would agree that the connection modern technology offers is actually a double-edged sword, an engrossing virtual world that cuts out human interaction.
Just because we lose sight of something does not mean it ceases to exist.
As increasingly isolated people we have to work to become part of a community. Just like the social issues we face, our community in its largeness lays just beyond our comprehension.
But seeing is believing, right?
The beauty of Pivotal is that in addition to being a collection of artful portraits writ large it is a vehicle that helps us get to know that very group around us. The individuals who want to help the city grow and evolve enliven Newburgh. Here change happens on a person-to-person scale; the balanced is shifted by the addition of one.
In Newburgh’s case change usually comes from passion. A passion for history, architecture, restoration, carpentry, the environment, the arts. Passion for farming, for good food, for health, justice, sustainability, fairness. These pictures are a gateway to connection, much more than ‘a name to a face’ (small town ice breaker #1.) These images are literally connected to the people themselves, their personas and ideas immortalized in pixels, on paper, and on film. Move your device over any of these photos and as if by magic you are connected once again to that community beyond your door. Humanity is at a crossroads with technology – by extension Art is in a similar place; threatened by the battery powered spectacle in your pocket. In this case I am grateful, awestruck and sporting goose bumps as these pictures bring me back to the people outside my door and beyond my comprehension. ‘
There they are,’ the photos say. ‘Now what will you do?’
Ruedi Hofmann Studio
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