"This group of images was begun, rather by accident, during that hinge of time between Christmas and the new year. On our way to Eagles Mere, my husband and I stopped to have lunch in Ashland, PA. The restaurant was large but deserted. Holiday decorations, turned limp by repeated hangings, adorned the room. Dreary blue grey winter light from windows mixed with the warm glow from electric lamps and multi-colored twinkle lights. At some point during our meal I steadied my camera on the counter for a long exposure and made an image of the empty room.

Weeks later, when I looked at the contact sheets, there among the frames of northern Pennsylvania landscapes was an unexpected image of the restaurant. The time in the room seemed to expand beyond the few seconds during which it was recorded. The effect of the temperature of the light on local color was subtle and varied. The debris of lunching and chatting, cleaning and serving, Christmas gone and New Year's coming, had taken on heightened meaning. "Merry Christmas from Stephen's Too," scrawled on a small blackboard near the center of the picture, had peculiar poignancy.

These images evolved from that first picture. During my sabbatical leave in 1994, I drove from Eastern Pennsylvania to Minneapolis and back, stopping in small towns and poking around in empty clubs, funeral homes, any kind of public space and making photographs, the one final subject of which is interiors used for some public or common purpose. The images describe the time between events. At the content level the pictures are sociological studies of culture and class as evidenced in artifact. Looking at them reminds me of peeking into the medicine chest while using an acquaintance's bathroom.

I think these sometimes modest, sometimes sterile, sometimes pretentious rooms are important. They are the places where we gather to share our common experiences. Ultimately, however, I photograph them because I like prowling around finding them, being in them, talking to the people who guard them... the subject acts as my boundary in an exploration of how camera and color materials can be used to describe fact. I am searching for ways to use the light, color and form to crystalize their beauty, poignancy, irony, wealth and humanity."

- Chris Welch



Photographs © Christine Welch. All Rights Reserved. Musarium