What was it like to be inside the Big Dig? Find out when photographer Peter Vanderwarker gives an artist’s talk Sunday March 2 at 1 p.m. at the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts. He will revisit the days he spent, over the course of some 15 years, documenting the construction that was hidden deep beneath the streets and harbor. As the daily lives of commuters were interrupted and re-routed, man and machinery labored out of sight in dark tunnels. Vanderwarker’s raw imagery insures their work is not forgotten.
Well-known for his architectural images of homes and buildings and a regular contributor to Design New England, Vanderwarker is also an insightful and entertaining speaker. His photos are part of Industrial Strength: Selections from the Collection, an exhibit inspired by An American in London: Whistler and the Thames. A show hanging concurrently at the Addison, the Whistler show is a collection of the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler from the mid 1880s when the artist lived in London. The paintings, prints, and drawings are not the romantic images of Victorian swells and their parlors, but look to the river and its commerce for their subjects. The same grittiness of industry is seen in Vanderwarker’s photographs, which offer a compelling look beneath the surface of what is formally called Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project, at the time, the most expensive public works project in the country. To the citizenry, the project, which started in 1989 and was completed in 2004, and was infamously not on time or on budget, will forever be known as the Big Dig.
Vanderwarker joins artists Edward Hopper, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Berenice Abbott, O. Winston Link, and Siah Armajani in the Industrial Strength show, which explores the industrial scene from laborers and factories to transportation and infrastructure. “Photography is essential to our understanding of our world,” says Vanderwarker. “I look for clear ways to use this great tool.”
Industrial Strength: Selections from the Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 180 Main Street, Andover, MA; exhibit through April 13.
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