Brett Simison: The Pane in Empty Rooms

CLOSING RECEPTION:  Sunday, February 2nd – 4 to 6pm. (Details HERE)

Just up the mountain from where I live is Ripton, Vermont, a rural community surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest. It’s also the location of the Homer Noble Farm, where Robert Frost spent his summers while teaching at the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference from 1940 until his death in 1963. The farm, and the small, rustic cabin up the hill where Frost lived and worked, is owned and maintained by Middlebury College as a memorial.

A colleague of mine, after looking at some of my other work, suggested I visit the farm, that I might find it interesting. I contacted my connections at the College to get keys to the buildings, so that I could see inside these places, to get some perspective on why Frost loved this area so much. From the very first visit I could see there was great potential for a set of images.

When I began this project, what I knew about Frost came from the poems I was assigned to read in high school literature class: “The Road Not Traveled”, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “Mending Wall”, and “Birches”, among others. Poet Laureate of the United States, a consummate New Englander, Frost was a man who exercised an economy of words with the folksy common sense of an agrarian perspective. That was the extent of my knowledge of the man.

I read as much of his work as I could find to get something that I could use as a starting point to create my images. What I found surprised me. Yes, the Frost I remembered from high school was still there, but I also sensed a darker current, something lonely and disconsolate.

I made many visits over the course of a couple of years when weather conditions created the kind of light and scenes I wanted to capture. After covering the cabin and farm grounds, I fanned out to the surrounding forests and trails, looking for spaces that Frost likely visited and used for inspiration.

With “The Pane in Empty Rooms”, I’ve tried to create a portfolio that conveys the natural beauty of the farm and the surrounding lands that Frost explored and served to inspire him, while simultaneously communicating a little of the darkness I found in those empty rooms in Ripton.

Selection of images from the exhibition:

About Simison:

Brett Simison is an editorial, commercial and fine art photographer based in Vermont. Over the course of his career, he has worked for a variety of commercial advertising and editorial clients throughout the United States, Mexico, and Central America, ranging from studio product photography, to assignments in the jungles of Guatemala, to teaching photography at the college level.

After receiving a degree in Zoology from the University of Florida, Brett trained as an assistant under National Geographic wildlife photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols. After years of working with Nick and assisting for commercial photographers in his spare time, he went on to a successful career in corporate interactive design and programming, heading up the interactive department of a major online advertising agency while covering assignments on the weekends. In 2006, Brett transitioned to photography full time.

His clients and publications include Outside Magazine, The New York Times, National Geographic Online, Backpacker Magazine, Capital Magazine, Concepts by Hochtief (Germany), Beer Advocate, Harcourt Houghton-Mifflin, Time Magazine Asia, Skiing Magazine, Sizzle, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Dirt Rag, Outdoor Traveler, Patagonia, The University of Virginia, Middlebury College, Pomona College, the New England Culinary Institute, the State University of New York, Landor Associates, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The native of Citronelle, Alabama now lives with his wife Amy and son Connor in the city of Vergennes, Vermont.