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Bernadette DiPietro: The Savoy Camera and Wash Day

In 1958, at age eleven, I won my first camera by selling subscriptions to magazines.  It had a boxy, plastic shape and was lime green.  It came packaged in a 50’s space age fashion box.  I still remember the feel of the camera in my hands and the sound of the clicking shutter.  It was at this age that I began to develop my eye for composition.  I still love looking through that small opening and creating visual arrangements.

 In 1975, I received my first automatic washer as a gift on Mothers Day.  Shortly after I began photographing clothes hanging out to dry as my own personal statement.  These were profound images because I grew up in a large, extended Italian family and laundry was a primary daily chore.  It was a task that had rhythm and order.   Wringer washers, clothespins, balls of white cotton twine and wicker baskets covered with floral oilcloth were every day vocabulary words.

 In 1978, I began traveling to other countries and photographing foreign clothes hanging out to dry.  Colorful clotheslines are the flags of nations and are much easier to find abroad. This inspirational concept stems from my early childhood memories of my Italian mother who set me on this visual journey. 

In 2003 my mom passed away at age ninety-two, and my vision of her is joyfully standing outdoors on a sunny day with a bushel of clothes at her feet, a cotton clothesline above her head and a few clothespins in her hand.      

 In 2000, I purchased my first, used electric automatic dryer at age fifty-three and in 2002 my first brand new dryer.  I do prefer hanging clothes out to dry.  I like the dance with nature and the experience of the outdoors when I’m hanging clothes.  I like being aware of the sky and the blowing wind.  I like the smell.  I like the color, design, and feel of weathered clothespins.  I like creating arrangements of colors, textures, and shapes against the background of the outdoors.  It’s my picture that I paint against the sky forming an instinctive, moving sculpture.

 We all have our stories of hanging clothes.  I hope my photographs release a few of your memories to some time or place where laundry touched your heart and that you enjoy my photographic images.

 Please contact me if you are interested in seeing more of the printed photographs from around the world in my downtown studio.

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