Art

Up Close and Personal

A new photography book explores life in South Providence

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During this season of plenty, we typically take some time to reflect on and maybe do what we can to help those who are less fortunate. Coat drives, toy donations, collecting canned goods – they’re all fine gestures and help us to remember those in need at this crucial time. But what about the rest of the year? Struggling families at the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder have to survive all 12 months of the year and in between they live, laugh, celebrate and take care of each other. Jennifer’s Family is a new book of photography that intimately documents just such a life. RISD alum Louisa Marie Summer, a native of Germany, spent a year developing a close relationship with Jennifer, a 26-year-old second-generation Puerto Rican woman living in South Providence with her Native American partner and their four children. With respect and understanding, Summer was able to peer closely into the lives of this family, capturing the everyday moments that define them. From a crowded living room during a child’s party to a breakfast of dry cereal served on an envelope to a ragged mattress on which a lone doll sleeps, the photos are clear, concise and telling. They document real lives without being exploitive, never holding up their subjects as objects of pity or vessels for political statements, and finding beauty in the mundane. Available at RISD Works (20 North Main St.), Symposium Books (240 Westminster St. and 224 Thayer St.) and Books on the Square (471 Angell St.), as well as Amazon.com.

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