WELLFLEETIANS 1970’s – 2017
An Ongoing Portrait Project Recording the Faces of Our Wellfleet Generation.
These recent portraits are the beginning of a project conceived a decade ago. When wandering the Wellfleet graveyards it occurred to me that although there are plenty of archived photos of the town there are very few intimate images of our “Ancestral” Wellfleetians* for us to honor and contemplate.
We forget that a town is nothing less than an accumulation of layers. Each over-lapping generation, in love with their Wellfleet, perceives it in their own image until the next generation comes along. We are rarely aware of those now gone who relinquished Wellfleet to us, or of those who’ll next claim it for their own.
Wellfleet Preservation Hall’s goal to embody and preserve the community’s spirit for now and future generations inspired me to attempt the same by presenting our “layer” individual by individual.
I’ve been drawing us since I arrived in the early 70’s and chose drawings rather than paintings this time as well, hoping to more closely capture the immediacy of the living person. I asked those who I drew not so much for their role in town as for the challenge of their face, and this is far from a complete collection.
Thanks to Wellfleet Preservation Hall, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and above all my patient sitters, this has been one of the more tender experiences of my life. Art can do nothing more than catch an approximation, a fleeting likeness of a living, moving person. If I’m able to pass on even that much of a Wellfleetian’s spirit I’m satisfied.
There are many more people I want to add to the project and I hope they’ll let me because my list is long.
Meanwhile I offer these images to us as much as to the future and it’s my sincerest hope that our community finds honor, humor and joy in the exhibit.
Love, Ellen L