Gina Williams

Pains and Panes

 
 
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                My great-grandfather worked as a farmer and coal miner in Terre Haute, Indiana. He and my great-grandmother raised corn, hogs, cattle, and children on their acreage outside of town. In early summer of 1977, we made the trip east from Oregon to say goodbye as Gramps lay dying of emphysema in a hospital room kids weren’t allowed to enter. With the adults preoccupied, I had lots of time to explore Gramps’s property, no longer considered a working farm. Sorrow seemed to seep from the tired barn and outbuildings, yet I recall being drawn to them, immersing myself in the sad peace, finding an eerie comfort there.

                The photographs in “Left Behind” were curated from images I have taken over the past couple of years of abandoned places, places that caught my eye from a distance on travels and walks.  They drew me closer, past “No Trespassing” signs, across fields, beneath barbed wire fences, beyond the cracked barn doors and shattered panes. Loneliness and isolation often figure in my photography and writing. These forgotten places are a physical reminder of a painful human reality that we are continually leaving and being left behind. I rarely pass by an abandoned structure without at least peering inside.

                I know I’m not alone in my fascination with the remains of things, whether it’s wandering through an old graveyard or photographing the bones of a collapsing farmhouse, the nature of these places both haunting and peaceful. The world, it’s been said, is constructed not of molecules but stories. It is not the buildings themselves, but the stories and secrets they hold that draw us in, our reimagining of the only built structure in our tenuous human existence that we can ever really hold onto.

 
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Gina Williams
 is a Pacific Northwest native originally from Whidbey Island, Washington. Much of her creative work is influenced by experience and observation. Over the years, she has worked as a firefighter, reporter, housekeeper, caregiver, veterinarian’s assistant, tree planter, gas station attendant, technical writer, cocktail waitress, and berry picker. Her most curious on-the-job task: feeding pet mealworms for an elderly woman as part of her housekeeping duties. Most exciting: fighting wildfires across the west. Most rewarding: raising her sons. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English, and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Oregon. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming most recently by Palooka, Great Weather for Media, Black Box Gallery, theNewerYork, Third Wednesday, Gallery 360, StepAway Magazine, Marco Polo, Meat for Tea, Cactus Heart, and Tiferet Journal, among others. Learn more about her and her work at GinaMarieWilliams.com.