“Tattered,” a photo essay about the American Flag by Barnard photographer Seth Butler, opens at Randolph’s First Light Studios Friday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.
Butler has worked on “Tattered” since 2002, when he received a BFA in photography from Montseratt College of Art in Beverly, Mass. While pursuing this project, Butler has become an accomplished freelance photographer and has worked for the world-renowned National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry.
For this exhibit, the artist links images of the flag with sections of the United States Flag Code. The code is lengthy, and its contents are not widely known. With each image in this exhibit, the viewer is invited to consider a portion of the code paired with a particular use of the flag.
In one instance, a woman wears a blouse emblazoned with the flag, and Butler juxtaposes it with a passage from the code that reads, “no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform…the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” The artist thereby invites the viewer into an intimate view of governmental policy surrounding the flag, and how that corresponds with popular cultural understanding, and flag use in America today.
Butler was born in 1979 in Beverly, Mass. and raised in Barnard. As a boy, he found an acute interest in photography inspired by his grandfather, Curtis Tuttle, who spent hours in the darkroom making pictures for the family. At the age of 12, Butler was given his first camera, and by 13, he was mixing chemistry, processing film and printing his first pictures. At Montseratt College of Art, he undertook formal study of photography, gaining a broad appreciation for the medium through its history of decisive moments, as well as learning to trust his intuition as a documentary photographer.
“Tattered,” will be on exhibit at First Light through October 3, with a number of gallery events scheduled. On September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there will be an artist talk from 2-4 p.m. On September 25, from 2-4 p.m., Butler will present an imaged artist talk entitled, “Myanmar (Burma) The Middle Way.” Finally, on October 23, Butler will lead a discussion concerning “Photography as a Catalyst for Positive Social Change.”
First Light Studios is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 pm., Sundays from 1-4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information go online to www.firstlightstudios.net and www.sethbutler.com/tattered.