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From March 16 through May 3, the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village (CT) will host an exhibition of early 20th century photography from the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society. There will be a reception with refreshments on Saturday, March 16, from 4-6PM.  It will be preceded by a talk at 3PM on the progress of photographic technology by Daniel Karp, a professor of photography at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. On Saturday, March 23, from 3:30-5PM, Michele Majer of Cora Ginsburg LLC will give a talk on late 19th and early 20th century fashion; items from the historical society’s collection will be on display.

“From the Great Falls to the Hilltops” allows a vivid peek into the past of Falls Village’s people and places. The source of the photographs are glass slide and silver nitrate film negatives from the estate of Mabel Hallaway (1893-1991) that were donated to the historical society.  Mabel, a native villager and a member of the Dean family, was a lifelong photographer and avid collector. In a Lakeville Journal profile of Mabel in the July 4, 1990 edition, her birthday, Andrew Shaffer wrote, “Mrs. Hallaway has recorded family events, local happenings, and people in a personal collection of journals and photo albums that date from the first decade of this century to the present.  One of her favorite pasttimes (sic) is taking photographs.“

With little notation on the envelopes, it was not possible to determine the provenance of the images or the dates they were taken, except in a few instances.  Nonetheless, The Mabel Hallaway Collection at the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society is a powerful document of the town’s history, the natural beauty of the area, Mabel’s work as a documentarian, and an example of what can be accomplished when local nonprofits work together in presenting local history to their communities.

PROJECT TEAM

The project team consists of Hunt ArtWall members including project lead and Hunt ArtWall chair, Garth Kobal; Rika Laser, scanning and printing; Sara Laser, consulting; and Zoe and Sergei Fedorjaczenko, framing and installation.  The Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society’s members are Mary Margaret Cortesi, head of research and documents, and fellow member Cheryl Aeschliman in charge of the society’s wardrobe holdings.

Daniel Karp has been involved in art and image making for most of his adult life, studying both film and photography at New York University. First coming to the region in the early 1990s to work with noted visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, he then went on to spend 12 years working in an historical photo conservation lab where he learned the intricacies of vintage and alternative photographic processes. For 4 years he was a partner in a co-operative photography gallery in Western Massachusetts. For 25 years he has worked as the camera operator with noted fine art photographer Gregory Crewdson. Throughout, he has made and shown images focused on documenting the landscapes and people in his life. Working with both film and digital cameras and utilizing various photographic processes from collodion wet plate to digital negatives, he has embraced all that photography has to offer. Daniel has taught photography at Bard College at Simon’s Rock since 2014 as well as alternative processes workshops in various settings including the graduate photography program at Yale University. In addition to being a photographer Daniel has been an active musician, playing guitar and writing songs with various local bands. He also works as a location sound recordist for film and television productions. Daniel has made his home in The Berkshires of western Massachusetts since 1992.

Michele Majer has been with Cora Ginsburg LLC as a research associate since 1995. In addition to her work for the gallery, she is Professor Emerita at the Bard Graduate Center, where she taught courses in clothing and textile history for 28 years. Ms. Majer received her B.A. at Barnard College and her M.A. at New York University. She was on the curatorial staff at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1986 to 1993. She was co-curator of the exhibition Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen (Bard Graduate Center, September 16, 2022–January 1, 2023) and contributed to and co-edited the accompanying catalogue, which received an AAMC 2023 Award for Excellence in publication. She also curated the exhibition Staging Fashion, 1880-1920:  Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke (Bard Graduate Center, January 18–April 8, 2012) and contributed to and edited the accompanying catalogue. Other publications include: “Arte, moda e mercato : la rivista Les Modes e l’Hôtel des Modes,” in Boldini e la moda (Ferrara: Fondazione Ferrara arte, 2020); “Le Costume Tailleur / The Skirt Suit,” in French Fashion, Women, and the First World War (New York: Yale University Press/Bard Graduate Center, 2019); and “La Mode à la girafe: Fashion, Culture and Politics in Bourbon Restoration France,” in Studies in the Decorative Arts (2009). Ms. Majer has lectured on various aspects of clothing history in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, and is a contributor to the yearly Cora Ginsburg catalogue.

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