For Immediate Release: March 22, 2019
Contact: Susan Strano, Marketing Director
802-447-1571 ext. 204
Clock on the Mantle
Photographed by Neil Rappaport (1942- 1998)
Colored by Susanne Rappaport (1944-2015)
Hand-colored Silver Gelatin Print, 14 x 17 inches
Courtesy the Vermont Folklife Center
Up Home: Hand-Colored Photographs by Susanne and Neil Rappaport
A Look into Minnie Griswold Life
Who was Minnie Griswold and what her life was like are the questions being unwrapped in Up Home: Hand-Colored Photographs by Susanne and Neil Rappaport. First unveiled at the Vermont Folklife Center in February, 2018, the collection of over 45 hand-colored photographs taken in Minnie Griswold’s Pawlet, Vermont home are now on view at Bennington Museum, March 30 through June 11. This exhibition brings together the best in documentary work and artistic expression.
Minnie Griswold died in 1952, at which time her sons locked up their mother’s house in Pawlet, Vermont and left all her belongings in place, untouched, unaltered, a type of shrine to their mother. Having lost their father to a mill accident when they were young, the boys had been raised single-handedly by their mother, Minnie Griswold. Her life in Vermont was simple yet hard.
The Making of Up Home
Thirty years later, in the 1980s, Pawlet documentarians Susanne and Neil Rappaport were invited by Charlie, one of Minnie’s sons, then in his 80s, into the home. There they observed all of the homes belongings – in place, seemingly unaltered. Combining their creativity, Neil went about photographing the rooms and everyday objects in black and white, using his large format camera. “Black and white photography would tell of too somber a Minnie Griswold; its portrayal would make too much of her tragedies, too little of her joys. The photographs would have to be open to coloring if any sense of her true spirit was to be conveyed.” – Neil Rappaport
Susanne then spent almost a year in Minnie’s home hand-coloring the images, capturing the life that had been in Minnie’s home. Susanne and Neil, have passed, Neil in 1998 and Susanne in 2015, but the images they created provide insight into Minnie’s life through the items left behind. “Her [Minnie’s] colors gave a living energy to the image space and it was a challenge to get better at making that happen. One at a time, the black-and-white photographs were being transformed and illuminated anew.” – Susanne Rappaport
As a part of her process, Susanne completed a number of smaller practice prints. The photographs Susanne practiced on where Neil’s contact prints—test prints he made as he worked toward creating the final versions. Before his final prints would become her canvas, these contact prints appear to have been her color sketchbook. Viewing Susanne’s colored version of Living Room Sofa side-by-side with Neil’s uncolored print presents a striking contrast. By comparing the two, one can understand the impact of the Rappaport’s creative decision – in seeing the Griswold home in color and not black and white.
On Sunday, April 7 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, join special guest Alan David Griswold, great grandson of Minnie Griswold whose home is the focus of the exhibition. Enjoy discussions with Alan, Bennington Museum curator Jamie Franklin, Associate Director and Archivist of Vermont Folklife Center Andy Kolovos, and Senior Photographer of Metropolitan Museum of Art Eileen Travell. Come to Bennington Museum’s Spring Social and learn more about the collection of over 45 images that help tell the story of Minnie Griswold and her sons. This event is free and open to the public.
About the Museum
Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington, in The Shires of Vermont. Beginning February 1, the museum is open 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Tuesday, closed Wednesday through May. Open daily June through October (closed July 4.) It is wheelchair accessible. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students, museum members, or to visit the museum shop. Visit the museum’s website www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.
Bennington Museum is a member of ArtCountry, a consortium of notable art and performance destinations in the scenic northern Berkshires of Massachusetts and southern Green Mountains of Vermont, including The Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art , Williamstown Theatre Festival (20 minutes away); and MASS MoCA (25minutes away). Visit ArtCountry.org for more information on these five great cultural centers.