the last two decades, Shellburne Thurber has examined the psychological
qualities of space through the medium of photography. She first addressed
this theme in a series of images of the childhood home of her mother shortly
after her death. Thurber states, "I became intrigued by the uncanny way
in which inhabited spaces take on the energy of those who live and work
The works presented in this exhibition document a group of older Southern
houses. Although they are no longer inhabited, each contains vestiges
of its earlier occupants. Curtains still hang on some of the windows reminding
us of a recent dweller. Other windows, stripped of such comforts, are
bare and sometimes broken. Occasionally a chair, couch or bed occupies
the room. More often, the rooms are empty of furniture. The eye is drawn
to crumbling architectural details: a door, a window, a fireplace, fading
paint or wallpaper.
Light is a central element in the images; it both illuminates and defines
the interior spaces. The plaster has partially fallen off the walls, exposing
the brick and wood structure of the house. The water-damaged plaster walls
retain some of their former color, a reminder of their past grandeur.
The room is abandoned and decayed, yet it does not register as gloomy.
Instead, the light streaming in from the open door and window sets the
tone of the picture. The brightly illuminated room becomes a document
of change, the passage of time and our inevitable mortality. Thurber powerfully
invokes the former inhabitants of each house. The viewer imagines people
living in these houses years ago, and also remembers other old houses,
the dwellings of parents or grandparents from the same period. This combination
of memory and imagination gives these spaces their psychological charge.