Juror’s Pick, Project Prize
“Rachel Barrett understands texture. She sees it in skin, in wood, in grass, and in color. Through her images she tries to touch life with her eyes. I can almost see her face pressed against the camera with glee, or with earnest composure. Her serious search for connection with her subjects—dead, alive, or inanimate—comes through in every image. We have reached a moment when discussions about photography have become increasingly cynical because of people’s oversaturation via Facebook, the Internet, television, and tabloids. Barrett reminds us that the best thing about being a photographer is the privilege of looking deeper at moments in life, and the simple joy of being able to look at those moments again and find something new.”
—Hank Willis Thomas
Bolinas is a small, unincorporated community along the coast of northern California. Dirt roads with hand-painted signs mark the paths between the homes of the town’s notoriously reclusive but interconnected residents. The town’s rich cultural and agricultural history culminated in the late 1960s and early 1970s after the Summer of Love—many people made their return to the land with the express intention of living a collective life. There is no longer a true commune in town as there once was, but the same mentality persists, of not simply living next door to one another but living an intrinsically shared existence with one another.
Among my generation, there is a resurgence of back-to-the-land ideologies, of sharing homes, running organic farms, and creating music and art—a life that exists within a context of perpetual exchange and engagement with one another. The recognition of this socially and politically significant movement led me to explore this town straddling two geographic plates, the past and the present, two worlds.
The images in Bolinas are meant to reflect the nature of the place, and so each one is a piece of the whole, just as individuals come together to create a community. The images delve into the intricacy and complexity of interconnectedness that exists in Bolinas, the near seamless relationship between humans and nature that permeates the atmosphere, and the invisible web that binds moments together.
Why are people driven to go off the grid and create alternative paths in life? How do we take responsibility for the earth and how do we give back to it? What makes a place a “home” and what does home mean?