Photographer opens exhibit on landscape, culture and history
UPPER JAY — Adirondack resident and photographer Chrissy Thomsen has been documenting landscapes and nature for 35 years. On Sunday, Jan. 7 she opened her art exhibit on UNESCO sites, a gallery of photographs from her travels to UNESCO sites across the globe.
UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is a specialized agency under the UN. Thomsen’s exhibit is located at the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay and will remain there through February. Viewers are given a glimpse into her travels to over 25 UNESCO sites across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Australia and Argentina. From landscape and nature photography to more urban areas such as the Sydney Opera House and the Statue of Liberty, Thomsen hopes her exhibit will encourage people to get away and refill from the outside world.
“UNESCO sites are there to preserve and teach you about history, about how we became the way we are today. It is good to look back at the significance of these places,” she said.
At the exhibit, Thomsen points to a photo of the Statue of Liberty, trying to imagine what it would feel like coming on a boat from Europe and not knowing what to perceive: “Being told there is this big statue in the water, and that’s the first image that you’ll see.
“That sticks with you,” she said. “And I’m sure grandparents and great-grandparents talk about the time when their grandparents came over on the boat. … It’s of huge significance to them. I don’t think we really think of our oral personal history or traditions anymore because we don’t have to,” she said. “It’s all on computers now; we can just look it up.”
For Thomsen, photography is a way of connecting with places while also keeping a journal. “I can take a photograph and remember that date completely,” she said.
In her exhibit, photos date from 2015 to 1997. While Thomsen is a longtime Adirondack resident, she did not include photos from here.
“I did not include photographs from the Adirondacks because we see them so often,” she said. “I think it’s good when people see things outside of here.”
In addition to a historical and cultural connection to UNESCO sites, an important piece of Thomsen’s exhibit is conservation and land preservation.
“We are so fortunate to be living on this planet, sharing the same air, water, soil with every living being. Sometimes it takes my breath away; other times it disappoints me because not everyone or thing is on the same page,” she said in her artist statement.
From the Blue Mountains of Australia to the Urnes Stave Church in Norway and the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, Thomsen hopes others will be inspired to go to these places and later will want to preserve them, too.
When asked about what brings her hope in conservation, Thomsen says it is the people — “people who believe in the environment and preserving it.
“It’s so important to eat and see and smell differently than your normal day … to absorb where you are at, to be inspired by other places and talk to different people,” she said. “I hope people who see the show will be inspired to travel, to work, and to be a better person.”
The Wells Memorial Library offers free gallery space every two months. To visit Thomsen’s exhibit you can go to 12230 state Route 9N, Upper Jay, or call 518-946-2644 for more information.