Sophia D. Lee

photography – fine art – design

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Heritage: b+w photographs of Poland

Opening on Friday, February 1, during the First Fridays Arts Walk in downtown Pittsfield, MA!  I’m having a one-woman show of black and white photographs (35mm and 120) taken in Poland in the mid-1990s.  The show is hanging at the lovely Maria’s European Delights shop, at 146 North Street (in the same block as Bagels, Too).

"Starka - prababcia" (great-grandmother)

“Starka – prababcia” (great-grandmother)

My mother is the only one in her family who emigrated and moved to the U.S. after studying in England and marrying an American. When I was in high school I wanted to unearth the reason for her strength, how it was that she was able to provide such a wonderful life for me, through the simple work of her two hands as a massage therapist. She joked that, thanks to her chore of taking the cows out to pasture when she was five years old in Poland, her hands were strong now.

Making Lace

Making Lace

That inspired me to interview women in Poland who toiled with their hands to make food, lace, wool, gardens, music. All that skill, care and knowledge within their hands astounded me! That raw ability to create something from nothing — to carry on traditions, to provide so much through their hands — spurred me on with my camera.

The images here were all taken in the south of Poland, near Krakow and the border of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The women in them are either friends or relatives of mine. Several of them, including my beloved Babcia (grandmother), have passed away.