Blowing in the Wind: Photos by Wayne D. King
I am drawn to laundry. Not to the doing of it, although there is a tepid satisfaction in that, but rather, the representation of laundry in art. It takes me back to childhood, where as a 10-year old, the only household chore I liked was hanging the laundry in my urban backyard. At eye level, for pinning the clothes to line, the best moment involved tall wooden poles that hooked the clothesline into a groove at the top. An upward thrust of the pole, bottom anchored in the grass, and that laundry scooted overhead and flapped in the wind. The sheets became sails. Those are the memories evoked by Wayne D. King's photographs in his exhibition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.Poetry in the mundane, I said to him, in describing my affinity for what some may see as the humblest of subjects. A half-dozen pieces of this collection feature washing on clotheslines. No doubt there is an ecological point in the choice of drying clothes in the wind and sun. King sees these photographs in part as "an invitation to engage one another in a dialog about saving the planet." For me the colors, the shapes formed by billowing cloth, the felt weight of the clothes on the line are the draw. The compositions are at once simple yet careful, and the use of color is sometimes sparing and just right. Laundry is not the only theme. There is a different example of the interplay between clothing and the wind in Billowing Skirt (pictured at top). Perhaps in a field next to an off-camera clothesline is the black and white Conversation. Others, like Cornflower and Ghost Train, are surrealistically hued. Though King has said that his friends have occasionally advised him to "leave the photos alone," he is sometimes compelled to rework and enhance them before he is satisfied with a new and final product. Some of the work on display has a local, New England feel; King lives in Rumney, NH. But his website shows that he has more than a nodding acquaintance with Africa, where he has photographed various subjects, including, of course, laundry. His book, Washday, is subtitled "An homage to humanity's shared tradition." It invites another kind of dialogue, one in which we recognize the universality and connection of the simple acts of wearing, washing--and drying--clothes. Given its new multi-artist exhibition, I previously described the medical center as a "hot new art gallery." As part of that exhibition, King's photographs can be seen in the Endoscopy Hallway on the fourth floor at DHMC until the end of March, 2016. Items are for sale; 25% of proceeds benefits the DHMC Arts Program.