About the Exhibit

Allen Palmer

Allen Palmer, MD

This project had its beginnings in chance encounters with a waitress taking a cigarette break in a back alley in Camden, Maine and a homeless man panhandling for spare change on a windswept rainy street in downtown Portland. They gave their permission for me to photograph them, as I was exploring the possibilities of street photography. Previously, I had been immersed in nature photography, creating images of slot canyons, buttes, ravines, rivers and such. My interest had been in the play of light on forms and in the patterns and repetitions of shapes in nature. With my foray into photographing the people in the urban landscape and through the prescient eye of artist Cig Harvey, I was able to recognize the quality of gesture and soulful expression in these two disparate individuals. The light not only fell on their faces and bodies but also seemed to emanate from within them. In retrospect, perhaps I had been drawn to a suggestion of motion and gesture in the shapes of nature as well.

I decided to pursue my new interest in photographing people within their contexts by taking on a larger project. I was guided to the photographic oeuvres of Arnold Newman and Yousuf Karsh, noted artists of environmental portraiture. I wanted to bring my interest into a realm where I reside so much of the time--the psychoanalytic community. Here was an opportunity to take a very different vantage point from my daily analytic work: through photographs, I would capture some essence of a person from the outside instead of exploring his or her inner world. I thought of our elders and what a tremendous role they have played in forwarding psychoanalysis, providing the day-to-day foundation upon which future generations of analysts would learn and practice. In the spirit of honoring those who have created a living legacy for our community, I decided to photograph senior psychoanalysts. To keep the project manageable, I chose to include psychoanalysts from the Boston community in their mid-seventies and older. I feel honored to have spent time with them. They welcomed me into their homes and offices, opened themselves up to the photographic process and revealed their many sides. I have learned of people's histories and experiences with analysts long gone, joys in family bonds, deep respect for their patients and work, and interests beyond analysis, both creative and idiosyncratic. Sadly, two of the thirty-three individuals have died since I began, Drs. Ingrid Gifford and Enid Caldwell. I hope the images I have created of them will serve to remind us of their lives and contributions.

I want to thank many individuals who have helped bring this project to fruition. First, I thank my mentor Cig Harvey who has been a wise and wonderful teacher and has walked with me every step of the way. I want to thank photographer John Goodman for his keen insights, playful presence and encouraging voice. Thanks, as well, to Carl Mastandrea, Director of the Boston Photo Collaborative and Cooperative. Next I would like to thank Dr. Dan Jacobs, Dr. Renée Gelman, and other members of the Library Committee at B.P.S.I. for their strong support and enthusiasm. I extend my thanks to Vivien Goldman, fellow photographer and former librarian at B.P.S.I. and to Susan Quinn for having proposed this exhibit's elegant title. My thanks also goes to Diana Nugent, Karen Smolens and Steve Morandi for their enthusiasm and operational support. Lastly, I thank my family for their loving encouragement and guidance.