September 03, 2019 to November 24, 2019
105 N. Union Street
Alexandria - 22314 VA
Multiple Exposures Gallery is pleased to present Silo City - Photographs by Eric Johnson. This exhibit will be on view from September 3 - November 24, 2019. Eric explains how this body of work came about:
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 made it possible to economically ship grain and other agricultural products from the Midwest and Great Lakes region to ports around the globe. Buffalo, NY was the western terminus of the canal, which meant that ships and railroads carrying grain from the Great Lakes and prairie states would transfer their cargo to barges there for further shipment down the Hudson River Valley to New York City. The early 1900s saw the construction of 14 concrete grain elevators along the Buffalo River, built to store grain intended for transshipment. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 allowed oceangoing ships sail directly to ports on the Great Lakes, bypassing Buffalo and the Eric Canal. As a result, most of the grain elevators on the Buffalo River were abandoned, and the canal is primarily used by recreational boaters today.
In the early 2000s, Rick Smith, a local Buffalo businessman, began to acquire a group of six grain elevators along the Buffalo River, nicknamed Silo City, with the goal of preserving thispart of Buffalo’s industrial past. Once or twice per year, Smith opens the site to a group of a dozen or so photographers who are given free rein to explore all six buildings on the property. The fence around the property and an on-site caretaker have prevented much of the vandalism that abandoned buildings typically fall prey to, but cannot prevent the decay due to water intrusion, corrosion, the brutal Buffalo winters and the natural degradation of man-made materials over time.
The photographs in this exhibit were made during trips to the site in 2015 and 2017. Rather than try to capture the sheer massiveness and volume of the buildings, some of which are more than 150 feet tall, I wanted to focus on some of the smaller and more intimate details of the buildings and machinery. The site can be a challenging place to photograph; there is no electricity in any of the buildings, so photographs must be made using existing light. In some of the deep interior parts of the buildings that are completely dark, additional light is essential to make a photograph. I initially planned to make the photographs in black and white, as is my usual practice, but I realized early in the editing process that the years of accumulated dust have softened the colors to the point where I found the images far more interesting when rendered in color.