Originally from Lowell, MA, Marla Sweeney has returned there during recent summers to photograph for her series, Salisbury. Her subjects are people “as [she] find[s] them” on the beaches and scenes of amusement parks of her childhood. The results are quietly powerful—intimate inroads to the private person on a public stage. Sweeney’s work shows full awareness of her position as photographer, and she operates on the belief that you see yourself “most clearly when you see yourself as a stranger.” Her portraits appear to make no judgments, but open a corridor through her lens for a brief yet significantly personal exchange between her and people she had not met before asking permission to photograph them. The result is a picture of a people within a culture seeming both ordinary and splendorous, revealing a depth of dignity and respect for people and memories as we imagine them and as we find them.
Sweeney will spend her month at Light Work printing from this series in preparation for an exhibition this fall at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. Her work has been exhibited and published widely. Most recently she has exhibited at Galleri Image in Denmark, and her work is included in several permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Musee da la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Museu da Imagem, Braga, Portugal; and the Harry Ransom Center Collection, University of Texas, Austin. Marla holds an MFA in photography from the State University of New York at New Paltz.