Although I am not completely done with the images from Pleasant Hill Shaker village in Kentucky, I wanted to share with you what I have. It really runs the gamut from still life to pure abstraction. Seeing the Shaker philosophy played out in their constructed world was fascinating.
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Let these pages be a testimony to the
unequaled creative imagination of
Shaker craftsmanship, which is all the
greater because it is never conscious of
itself, never seeks recognition, and is
completely absorbed in the work to be done.
Introduction to Religion in Wood
I offer this image as an example of that aesthetic. The wooden stick is a prop for holding the window open. The two notches allow the window to be raised to two heights. Simple. But the Shaker craftsman design it so that the height of the opening was equal to the height of the window panes so that the mullions would line up properly when the window was open allowing for the perfect symmetry of the sash to be maintained. Only the Shakers would have considered that a detail worth thinking about but, as they say, "God is in the details." The Shakers truly embraced that concept.
Photographing a built environment that is so inextricably linked to a contemplative philosophy is a wonderful opportunity for me. Reading Merton's book, "Seeking Paradise" has added to my understanding of this unique spiritual movement and their place in American history. I look forward to re-visiting the New England Shaker communities in the months to come. Here is a video about the last Shaker community in my home state at Sabbathday Lake, Maine....
The Last Shakers
For a longer look at the history of the Shaker movement you can view this video. It was made when there were still two active villages, the one in Maine and one in Canterbury, New Hampshire. It was produced and directed by the master videographer, Ken Burns.