In May of 2015, I posted a photograph of my son Ayden in a store that was closing in my mall. In the article, I mentioned how similar the photo looked to one taken of me, when I was three years old, in Centralia Pennsylvania. I have the photograph of myself. I did not publish it due to copyright issues. It was from a book called SLOW BURN, a 1980s photodocumentary with pictures taken by Renée Jacobs.
For those who don’t know much about Centralia, an underground mine fire started decades ago. A series of bad missteps from officials and twists and turns of neighborly breakdowns occurred, and the town went from 2000 people to … just about zero. The town has also become a tourist attraction, it’s home to the famed graffiti highway, and the movie SILENT HILL was based on it. An upcoming project promises a television series based on the town.
THIRTY YEARS LATER.
I constantly peruse through historical documents, not only of life itself but of my own personal existence. I can be nostalgic when unneeded.. but I also believe a bit of self recollection helps maturity.
In that regard, I reached out to photographer Renée Jacobs. It’s funny. I was pictured in the book on page 13 standing next to a borehole in my back yard, and my parents were both quoted. I actually recall it .. Vaguely at best. But I recall the moment! I remember the exact time it was taken. It was warm.. I recall the smells.. The picture is in black and white, but I have it in my mind in vivid color.. That is probably how most of your lives are too, you can think back and pinpoint a single action during your early toddler or childhood years. Just a brief moment in time, one captured with a feeling. My feeling at the time the picture was taken: Confusion and sadness. Friends were vanishing. Houses were too.. I loved watching demolition teams come in and destroy entire blocks of row homes.. it wasn’t until I grew up more that I realized they were destroying my hometown from top to bottom.
After my contact to Ms. Jacobs, I received something in the mail, and I could not be more ecstatic.
Renée Jacobs sent my an autographed print of page 13, featuring the young me with wide eyes and a future to come, along with a note.
The work on Jacobs’ website is stunning and beautiful. It may not be for the WORK atmosphere. A link to her page, http://www.reneejacobs.com/, comes perhaps with a bit of caution..
Renée Jacobs’ black and white fine art nude photography gives the viewer a luxurious peek into the ultra-sensual world of the feminine. Beyond sexy, her photographs are dreamy and secretive, daring and alluring. Her subjects give Renée their trust and the result is a collaborative journey which fulfills fantasies.
Jacobs’ work has been exhibited and celebrated around the world. She also received the prestigious International Photography Award for Fine Art Nude. Her 2009 & 2010 photo calendars went to #1 on Amazon. She had work as a photojournalist. Just recently, an announcement came from Duke University:
The Archive of Documentary Arts, a part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, is pleased to announce its recent acquisition ofirst published in 1986 by University of Pennsylvania Press, chronicles Centralia’s demise from an underground coal mine fire and depicts a singular epic event in Pennsylvania history, representing the confluence of environmental, scientific, bureaucratic, and emotional tragedies
I love this part of her bio: “Her first book, Slow Burn: A Photodocument of Centralia, Pennsylvania was originally published in 1986 and re-issued in 2010 to favorable reviews in The New York Times Review of Books and photo-eye. After a 15 year detour as a civil rights lawyer, Renée returned to photography. ”
A detour in life! One that takes you away from your passion and zeal..your Zest for life and creative spirit.
I am sure she was a fine attorney.
Looking at her photos, I am glad she returned back from the detour.
And Renée, I couldn’t be more appreciate and ecstatic over the personal note and photo.
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