Safer at Home: Exploring the ONE Archives Collection

Week 4 (May 11, 2020)

This photograph has probably never been showcased before because it is blurry, overexposed, and depicts an unidentified woman. The woman’s right hand completely disappears into the bush behind her, her left hand clenches a large saw, she wears pants with the cuffs rolled up, her feet are outside of the frame, and her bandeau top is so hard to see, that she appears topless. The setting is relatively nondescript—she stands on grass and brush, with a big bush behind her and a small clearing in the photo’s right corner. Her face is turned away from the viewer, but her mouth is open, and she seems to be talking or yelling. Her pose begs the question—what is she sawing or doing? 

It is for all of these photographic “flaws” and unknowns that I love the image. The photograph is a snapshot, taken by someone at some time that had meaning to them. They knew who they were, what they were doing, and when the photograph was taken. And, although that information has been lost, I find a certain comfort in an image like this. With the bright sun and nature all around, she is free to be silly or grand, to say what she wants how she wants.

As humans across the globe share the experience of similar shelter-in-place orders, we may appreciate the freedom to be outside and in nature in a new way. The ability to control the work we do with our hands has similarly been reconceived during this pandemic. How can we take these new ideas and use them to empower ourselves and others? As we scroll past images of people we know and don’t know, what can we learn from others? How can we harness the resources we have at hand to create moments of freedom and joy?  

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