Sarah C. Butler's Frozen in Time is a deeply personal narrative chronicling the turbulent relationship between the photographer and her mother set in the serene surroundings of her mother's beautiful but dilapidated Maine home. At once stunning and heart-wrenching, Butler's luminous photographs tell a poignant story of coming to terms with mother and daughter discord that is both intimate and universally relatable.
Drawn to reconnect with her mother after a long estrangement, Butler found that taking photographs of the partially restored Maine farmhouse where the older woman chose to live ultimately gave her the perspective to understand and respect her mother's choices. The images are evocative: A pair of little girls' dresses that once belonged to Butler and her sister, which her mother kept for decades; a corner of the beloved but fading house with its foundation jacked up on a pile of rocks; a partial glimpse of her mother, present yet unknowable -- these and others reveal a complex and compelling narrative.
Butler began photographing in 2009 when her mother's health had started to deteriorate and she was terrified she was about to die. She continued to take pictures until shortly before her mother's death in June 2015. In her afterword, she writes about her fears and feelings of anger towards her mother through coming to terms and acceptance: "Six years ago, I thought I had stepped into a nightmare, that I had lost a mother I never really knew. I thought my job was to help her find her a way out of that terrible place. Instead, I learned that she was where she wanted to be. Through photographing her, I discovered its beauty - and ultimately, to my great surprise, I fell in love with the old house and with her."
Frozen in Time is a series about family, distance and reconciliation; the mysteries of the mother-daughter relationship; and, finally, the redemption to be found in acceptance. In another text, author Vicki Goldberg writes: "The story [these photographs] tell unrolls a psychological narrative and a highly unusual one at that, not about the resident of the house but about the way the photographs changed the photographer."
Sarah C. Butler, Frozen in time
August 31 to September 14, 2017
6 Neighborhood Road
Northeast Harbor, ME 04662
Book published by Glitterati