When photographer Maureen Drennan was growing up, she spent part of her time in Block Island, Rhode Island, whose landscape is characterized by foggy skies and still waters.
Drennan returned to her childhood haunt again, as an adult, camera in tow, to document the landscape as a sort of self-portrait, a physical embodiment of the isolation she was experiencing in her married life.
Her husband Paul had fallen into a severe depression, leaving Maureen stumbling to understand the inner workings of her partner’s mind. Somehow, taking photos helped. “The intimacy of making the photographs together during a challenging time was restorative,” Drennan said. “Where words failed us, the pictures filled in the blanks.”
When asked whether Paul was immediately open to being photographed, Drennan says he was, with the admission that he rarely liked to be in front of the camera prior to this period. She was hesitant at the onset, fearing she would “isolate him further by picking up the camera.” When she did, she found it became a lifeline tying them together.The pictures of Block Island, Drennan explains, became like “self-portraits.” The endless horizon stood in for her own history, the gaps and emotional wounds that lay between herself, her past, and her future. Of this time in her marriage, the artist confesses, “I was an insider who felt like an outsider.”
When she speaks about her pictures of Paul, her affection for him then and now bleeds though the cracks: “I love how his hair and beard getting longer can operate as a measurement of time and growth.”
All images © Maureen Drennan