Shades of gray

It’s not uncommon for a common type of snob to thumb his or her nose at the notion of "anthology," be it an anthology of modern American poetry (ah, Norton) or an emo-themed mix CD. I’ve never really held that attitude, preferring instead to just be thankful that there are people out there that have a passing interest in poetry at all.

Same goes for visual art: Retrospectives are cool, but so are the museums that host them. Recently, however, I happened across local photographer Bill Emory’s website, Black and White, which is basically an online gallery—or ongoing and on-growing retrospective, if you will—of his work.

Since March 2005, Emory has been posting his photographs daily. The majority of the photos are black and white, and scrolling through the months and years of work I felt like I got to know—intimately—both Emory himself and the people in his life: his neighbors in the Woolen Mills, his twin daughters, his dog, Sophie. It’s a website that, as you make your way through it, you actually begin to see the world through someone else’s eyes. (Who knew that’s the superpower art fosters?!) The experience is simultaneously eerie and fascinating and beautiful. "Beautiful" thanks to the photos themselves, on a purely aesthetic level.

Examining Emory’s website, I finally understood the benefits of that old notion of having everything in one place. There’s a story to be told that no single sentence could sum up. It’s not that I think anthologies or mixed CDs or museum collections are any less cool than I did yesterday: I just understand the desire to anthologize a little bit more.

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