Home Arts Flood Photographs Highlight Volunteers and Ongoing Challenges

Flood Photographs Highlight Volunteers and Ongoing Challenges

Photographers Shannon Alexander, left, and Elliot Burg stand beside two of their works in “Recovery: Flood Photographs of Barre & Montpelier,” on exhibit in the Statehouse cafeteria. Alexander is beside her photo of the aftermath of last July’s flood on Main Street in Barre’s North End. Burg is beside his photo of a volunteer pausing by the Drawing Board and Savoy Theater. Photograph by Tom McKone.
Mud, buckets, gloves, masks, water where it shouldn’t be, and people — always people — are running themes in “Recovery: Flood Photographs of Barre & Montpelier” by Shannon Alexander and Elliot Burg, the current art exhibit in the Vermont Statehouse cafeteria.

The exhibit, which runs through March 30, contains 14 large-format, black-and-white photographs and highlights the importance of volunteers. Speakers at the March 14 opening ceremony emphasized that flood recovery is not over and that such disaster  will likely happen again.   

“I’m humbled to have an opportunity to contribute to the reminders to our communities and to the legislature about what we face,” Burg said. “. . . As Conor (Casey) was saying, this is going to happen again . . . so we need to figure out what to do for the future.”

Rep. Conor Casey of Montpelier said the state needs to help the individuals, businesses, and communities that have been knocked down by the July flood.

“I really want to thank Shannon and Elliot, because every time our colleagues walk by this cafeteria, they’ll see some of the people who helped get us back to where we are today,” Casey said, adding that the initial state funding has been helpful, but there’s still a lot to do.

Rep. Jonathan Williams of Barre called the photographs a “stark reminder of what happened.”

“This was a climate-change-related event, folks,” Williams said, “and it’s going to get harder. We need to be prepared.”

Alexander, a Barre native who used to focus on portrait photography, said that last year she switched her emphasis to photographing Barre and showing what an amazing community it is.

“My life and work are deeply ingrained in the Barre community,” she wrote on a placard accompanying the show. “Through my photography work with the Barre Partnership and Barre Area Development, my goal is to capture the spirit of Barre, telling stories and evoking emotions through my photos.”

David Schutz, the Vermont state curator, said that Montpelier Alive Executive Director Katie Trautz contacted him in January to ask if there was a way to show some of Alexander’s and Burg’s photos at the Statehouse. He made some revisions in the schedule, which is typically booked a year in advance, to fit the exhibit in this month.

Schutz said they had the photographs printed at the Drawing Board on a durable, portable material, in anticipation of showing them at other locations in Barre and Montpelier.

Commenting on how striking it was to walk into the exhibit and see the dramatic reminders of how much progress has been made, Trautz said it is important to realize that downtown businesses are still fragile and need support from the community.

Located in the Statehouse cafeteria, the exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, through March 30.