In 2003, the Phillips Farm, one of the original farms on 144 acres of farmland southwest of the village, was slated to be subdivided into multiple lots. Had that development occurred, Waterford’s National Historic Landmark status would have been jeopardized. The Waterford Foundation secured $4 million to purchase the farm, now preserved as open space in agricultural use forever.
Using my drone, I programmed a flight path that created a grid pattern across the 144 acres. The drone flew this pattern, shooting 544 individual images over the span of about 40 minutes, then stitched together with a special software package to create this ultra-high resolution orthomosaic.
The first time that I visited Waterford, I was struck by the absence of modern amenities, such as grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and other retail. The Waterford Market is one of two small retail establishments in town, although there are several other businesses, such as a realtor, post office, and artist studio. The Market frequently has free produce outside and the shelves inside carry basic grocery sundries, mostly nonperishables. The Market is also a working sheep farm, and also sells lamb meat, handmade woolen products, and local crafts. In conversations with townspeople, most go to nearby Purcellville for larger grocery shopping but will pop into the market to pick up a quick item. There is still no restaurant in city limits, so residents either dine out in the surrounding towns or entertain with dinner parties at home.
The Ground Beneath Us is a new initiative founded by artist Daniel Duford and community member Dr. Armand Balboni. They are currently working to bring artists to Waterford to invigorate a discussion expanding the history and culture of the town. My photograph was made at the Summer Fellowship Institute, where artist fellows presented their research in various forms in the historic John Wesley Church. I frequently think of the art community as a unique kind of spiritual fellowship and the choice of the church location for the presentations heightened this sense that art has the potential for transcendence.
I met Mairyn through the Colonial Camp at the Waterford Foundation, a group of 8-10 year olds that were learning about American colonial history through the practice of different heritage skills. Later in the week, Mairyn told me about her scooter accident, where she was riding a scooter down a steep hill, and unable to brake, had to bail out and roll, scraping her face in the process and needing stitches on her chin. I was instantly transported back to my own childhood in Indiana, where my brother and I built bicycle jumps and tested our own physical abilities free of the limiting fears of adulthood.
As part of the Colonial Camp, the youth learned about Silhouette Portraits, which were a common way of making likenesses of loved ones before the advent of photography. Prior to photography, detailed paintings were only possible for the wealthy, and silhouette tracings were a way to democratize the image. After the youth traced and cut their silhouettes, we made photographs together as a reference to the process and to think about the evolution of the means of representation from past to present.
Through the foundation, we reached out to the Waterford-adjacent community of artisans and craftspeople, including faculty at the school, and invited them to have their contemporary portrait made using this unique historic process. Sitters dictated the choice of clothing and selected the objects and tools of their trade. We made two plates with each person - one for the exhibition and one for them to keep. The most interesting part for me is when an image begins to read as historic and then shifts with the reveal of an anachronism or contemporary detail. This speaks to the dual identities of Waterford today, which coexists as both modern and historic, occupying both spaces concurrently. More about Jay can be found on his website - https://www.jgould.net/
While researching in the Waterford Foundation archives, I came across an Ian McLaughlin photograph of the fireplace at the Hague Hough House from January 11, 1937. Fascinated by the image, I asked the Foundation staff whether they could put me in touch with the current owner and sent her a scan of the historic image. Suzi responded quickly with “First of all, WOW on that pic! Are you kidding me?! Do you have others? Thanks for sharing it. Attached is my black and white replica of the fireplace <about 2 minutes ago>.” Invigorated by the response, we made a time to meet and for me to make a high-resolution photograph of the fireplace. She also shared other images of the house under renovation and told me a story of finding a horse skull under the upstairs floorboards. It was discovered after a family member became averse to stepping on that particular spot on the floor. No one knows how or why it came to be there.