Contact Sheet 96 features work by Bill McDowell from the exhibition Banner of Light: The Lily Dale Photographs. The Lily Dale Assembly was founded in 1879 as a retreat for Spiritualists. The Spiritualist movement began in 1848, and focused on contacting departed loved ones, and the notion of seeking higher wisdom from the spirit world. The Lily Dale Assembly is still in existence, and McDowell visited the community repeatedly to create this series of portraits and observations. He was welcomed into their homes and had the opportunity to get to know and understand the individuals and the community. The idea of Spiritualism may be met by some people with skepticism or criticism, so McDowell took great care in his presentation of a subject that could be easily represented in a cynical fashion.
Bill McDowell teaches classes in digital imaging and photography at the University of Vermont. He lives in Plattsburgh, NY. McDowell is a recipient of the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Grant and exhibits his work internationally. He participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in 1995.