I've been working on a series over the past couple years reflecting on the historic aesthetic of Wickford. I'm not the first artist to be intrigued by doorways. Some artists focus on this motif because of its symbolism as a gateway, a threshold that must be crossed before we pass into another world. Some enjoy the different nuances in architecture and décor. For myself it was a bit of the latter, plus an effort to capture something that I felt might not stand the test of time.
While traveling I realized how these simple doorways can so eloquently illustrate a local culture. I've captured doors while traveling to Spain and Mexico, but for some reason I never gave myself time to appreciate the ones I had passed everyday for my entire life. I've always had a curiosity and interest in local history, the stories of where we all come from, the old objects that have survived... And when I started to wander the streets of Wickford properly, with a camera, taking the time to look and observe, I realized this historic town was vibrant yet crumbling. Fresh coats of paint and window boxes filled with flowers complemented the centuries old buildings and entryways, partnered to bring passersby a glimpse of the past while still showing resilience to keep moving forward.
While these streets filled me with nostalgia and love, part of me was sad. Part of me knew how threatened little historic villages like this are from a number of encroaching forces. Cost of living in Rhode Island and maintaining homes like these are exceptionally high. The constant threat of development knocking on the door threatens places that are defined by preservation. And most obvious in downtown Wickford (at least to me) is the threat of rising seas. What was once only brought on by storm swell became more frequent with spring tides, then full moon tides, and now with almost every high tide you can see the shoreline being eaten away by significantly more water than in years past.
I'm not saying everything should be preserved and nothing should change. On the contrary, I believe a balance of conscious preservation and change makes for a successful recipe. And while Wickford has embodied both of these aspects for so many years, I just hope it can continue to do so.
In the meantime, I'll keep walking the streets. At least now I've photographed some of my favorite doors in every season. Perhaps this little project can expand to a few other New England historic outlets nearby...
Wickford Scenics Gallery