On Display: Melinda Blauvelt, Brantville 1972-1974

Category: arts 98

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s current exhibition Melinda Blauvelt, Brantville 1972-1974 highlights the early work of American photographer Melinda Blauvelt who spent her summers in New Brunswick in the early seventies. 

Yvon & Yvette Brantville, NB 1973
Matt Carter 

New Brunswick connections run deep in the exhibition Melinda Blauvelt, Brantville 1972-1974, currently on display at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Comprised of more than 30 black and white portraits made by American photographer Melinda Blauvelt during her summer’s spent in the tiny coastal fishing village of Brantville, on the Acadian Peninsula, this exhibition offers an intimate portrait of the people, the community, and life in rural New Brunswick during the early 1970s. 

Blauvelt studied photography at Yale, became the first woman in Yale’s MFA photography program, and went on to teach at Harvard. In the early seventies, she was one of several American students to volunteer with the Quebec Labour Mission Foundation running day camps in various communities along Canada’s east coast. Inspired by her Yale instructor, renowned American photographer Walker Evans, Blauvelt began documenting life in Brantville and the people and places that defined her time spent in the community. 

A selection of Blauvelt’s Brantville collection was exhibited during her 1973 MFA thesis at Yale. A few were also included in her 1975 exhibit at the Addison Gallery of Art in Andover, Massachusetts.  

50 years after her Brantville project began, Blauvelt printed many of her negatives for the first time resulting in the current collection now on display in Fredericton. 

In the exhibition catalogue for Melinda Blauvelt, Brantville 1972-1974, Blauvelt wrote, “Isolated during the Pandemic, I sifted through 50+ years of negatives and slides: black and white, colour, large and small format, almost all portraits (mostly children). I discovered many Bralntville images that I had missed – a summertime tableau of teens on a quilt, twins woven together by their crossed arms, a brother and sister clasping hands, etc… The images are a record of what I saw when I was looking carefully at these kind, generous people, their playful and poignant gestures, and moments in this intimate little village.”  

Melinda Blauvelt, Brantville 1972-1974 is on display until May 28. 

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