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Griffin Museum Of Photography : Lyn Swett Miller : Compost : Muse & Metaphor


 The Griffin Museum Of Photography presents photographer Lyn Swett Miller. Compost : Muse & Metaphor looks at the beauty of what remains, the idea of impermanence and that life around us is ever changing.
A call to action, Swett Miller showcases the beauty and transformation of our own detritus.
Here is Swett Miller’s artist statement :

When I dump compost into the bin behind our garage, avocado peels, orange rinds and eggshells mix and mingle, creating textured and colorful tapestries. How can food waste be so beautiful? I am in awe of the kaleidoscope of nitrogen and carbon rich materials that nourish the soil and the soul.

While a single bucket of compost can feel inconsequential, when I keep showing up, this weekly ‘chore’ impacts not just the waste stream and my inner climate activist, but also my sense of personal equilibrium in uncertain times. The images are square, like the bin itself. There are no hierarchies. Each one reveals a necessary reciprocity and balance between the diverse materials as well as between me and the natural world.

Over the course of twelve years, I’ve processed three tons of my family’s food waste, one bucket-full at a time as well as ten tons from a local cafe. In the process, compost became my muse and metaphor, inspiring me to explore the detritus of our lives. Objects, like a vintage Shakespeare and my mother-in-law’s thesaurus found new meaning when mixed with food scraps, inspiring questions about not just food waste and consumption, but also about privilege and the power of narrative.

I live in Hanover, NH where I have spent the past fifteen years trying to figure out what it takes for a suburban family of four to live sustainably. In response to profound climate grief, practical actions like composting gave me a sense of purpose. I am a founding member of the Sustainable Hanover Committee and have found a voice for my activism through photography.

As the climate reaches a tipping point, composting enriches the soil and these images educate, inspire and provide meditations on the power of regeneration, transformation and renewal

I am an emerging climate photographer happiest mucking around with the detritus of life. While investigating compost, landfills and other aspects of our material world, I create visual meditations on the power of regeneration, transformation and renewal.

For the past two decades, I have been exploring what it takes for a suburban family of four to live sustainably. While my early work focused on documenting the beauty and power of all those actions on climate ‘to do’ lists, I now explore the dynamic relationship between myself and the material world. “Subjects” are no longer “taken,” but are instead collaborators with whom I learn to cultivate kinship

Compost is my muse and metaphor and is where I go to make sense of the world. Photography enables me to share the beauty I see in our waste and the possibilities for joy embodied in the apparent mess. My work offers deeply personal narratives that inspire conversation about consumption and our relationships to people, place and possessions.

My hope is that this work inspires you to reframe how you think about the climate crisis. Perhaps the images of compost on this site will make you smile and see that there is joy in re-imagining our relationships to just about everything.
Lyn Swett Miller


Lyn Swett Miller : Compost : Muse & Metaphor
Until 27 November, 2022
Griffin Museum of Photography
67 Shore Road
Winchester, MA 01890

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