Hidden in Plain Sight at the Bellingham Cary House

Professional photographer, Jarrod Staples, is fascinated by the elements and places that surround us but are often overlooked. It is a concept that the Stoneham resident has been examining for more than 10 years. Staples’ evocative series of images preserve delicate, ordinary items for future generations to remember and examine.

“History and memory are specifically linked to photography,” explained Staples. “By remembering, you are stopping something from being forgotten.”

On April 28, Staples presented “Catalog of the Forgotten: An Intersection of Photography, History and Memory” at The Governor Bellingham – Cary House Association Annual Meeting to discuss his archival and documentary photography.

“As a lover of history, I am in my glory when I’m creating these images,” said Staples, who was born and raised in Malden. “The objects that I photograph have many stories to tell.”

During Staples’ time as a Salem State University undergraduate, his passion for photography developed into a career. While interning at the Peabody Essex Museum, Staples was influenced by archival photography and became invested in preserving history. He earned an MFA in Visual Art from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and has worked in both digital and analog photography.

“It opened me up to a whole new world of stories and experiences,” Staples said. “What drew me to photography was the way it allowed me to capture and then re-present how I perceived something to be.”

Staples worked closely with curators and conservators while recording images of textiles and clothing in the Beverly Historical Society’s permanent collection. He is attracted to commonplace objects — such as a page out of a ship captain’s journal — and documented them on a grey background with even lighting.

Staples is currently working on a new series of images taken throughout The Bellingham-Cary House: “Forgotten, but not Gone/ Hidden in Plain Sight,” in which Staples documents items that have outlived their original purposes but persistently exist.

“Photography allows us to interact with these things, recognize them, and internalize that memory,” Staples explained. “They’re regular everyday objects.  I love how simple that is.”

Staples initially photographed wide-angled shots of the rooms, gradually focusing on the details as he explored the minutiae that made The Bellingham-Cary House a home – the pots and pans inside the kitchen’s hearth, a potty chair against a wall, and an infant’s cradle beside a fireplace.

“These are the symbols of growth, of family, of life, and love; of things unfolding over generations,” exclaimed Staples. “There is life that has been lived in this house. This is a hidden jewel.”

Staples also began creating pairings of images linked by color palettes, functions, and eras, such as a coat hook on a wall that echoed an upstairs lamp. He hopes that these pictures – including close-ups of instruments, baby shoes, and doorknobs – will create conversations and inspire people to pause and examine items more thoughtfully.

“I want to create an experience and isolate these objects from the context in which they exist so that you can experience these individual objects,” Staples explained. “I invite you to think more about your everyday life and the objects that you interact with on a daily basis. Take a moment and think about it more thoroughly.”

View Jarrod Staples’ “Forgotten, but not Gone/Hidden in Plain Sight” series at The Bellingham-Cary House, located at 34 Parker Street, Chelsea, on Friday, June 15, from 6-9 p.m. for the opening reception. The exhibition (which will also feature Bellingham-Cary House Trustee Matt Frank’s photographs of Chelsea) will also be on display on Saturday, June 16, noon-4 p.m. The Cary House will be hosting their Annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 15, from 1-4 p.m., as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *