October 19 - December 18, 2009

Meyers Pond by G.Leslie Sweetnam


Aerial view of Meyers Pond by G. Leslie Sweetnam

What You Can't See from the Roads

Aerial Photographs of the Last Green Valley

Homer Babbidge Library Stevens Gallery & Dodd Research Center West Corridor
Curator: Jane Recchio

“Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment...and therefore for the fostering of a healthy human race and even very likely for its survival.”
— Eliot Porter

Woodstock resident G. Leslie Sweetnam lived in the “quiet corner” of Eastern Connecticut for 20 years before he flew over it. “I thought I knew the area,” he says. “I had hiked, worked on my town’s conservation commission, and taken back roads whenever possible, but the view from the air was a revelation.

I knew the roads, the topography, the geological history, but I was amazed at the extent of the unbroken forests, the network of swamps, streams and rivers, the centuries-old villages and the active farms collected on the best agricultural soils.”

Wanting to share these visions with neighbors who make irrevocable decisions about how this area changes, Sweetnam started taking pictures. His images offer wider views and different angles than those we experience on our roads. Some are impressionistic, their patterns intriguing but incomprehensible at first look. “Some of them still give me vertigo,” he says, “but no Dramamine is required to view this exhibit.”

Sweetnam’s images have been used in campaigns by groups that share his concerns, including the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, the American Farmland Trust, and the Last Green Valley, whose director, Charlene Cutler, recently said, “[Leslie’s] beautiful images of our region...are helping each and every day to communicate how special the valley is and why it is so important to use this precious and brief opportunity we have to keep it intact.”

Maps and aerial photographs from MAGIC, the University of Connecticut Libraries’ Map & Geographic Information Center, are included in the exhibit as a complement to Sweetnam’s photographs.

More about G. Leslie Sweetnam can be found on his Welcome to G. Leslie Sweetnam online! page and more about the Last Green Valley on the Welcome to The Last Green Valley page.