Spoleto, Italy, is known for its long-running festival that draws in the world's art lovers. But there's another Spoleto, one of quiet streets and hard-working residents.
JoAnn Verburg knows that Spoleto.
The renowned photographer lives there part-time with her husband, poet Jim Moore, and has chronicled her adopted home in Interruptions, a 20-piece exhibit of large-format photography at Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space.
Curator Jessica Hunter Larsen saw a Verburg retrospective at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 2007. She then met the photographer and started thinking about an exhibit at CC, where Verburg and Moore have been visiting professors.
"When I walked into her studio and saw this particular body of work," says Hunter Larsen, "I felt like, not so much that 'I see images of Spoleto, and what a beautiful place in Italy,' but almost remembering being there. Even though I've never been there."
Interruptions' hauntingly empty streets compel the viewer to wonder whether everybody just disappeared into a doorway, or around a corner. Then the people appear in other images, where Verburg has separated from their habitats and daily routines.
"You really want to engage with them as people," Hunter Larsen says. "They're sort of characters on the stage of Spoleto."
Verburg's intimacy with the town and its people lends the images a rare richness. After more than two decades, she knows when to capture the best light and where to stand for the most striking composition.
To Hunter Larsen, the photos exemplify the evolution of the art from objective documentation to subjective vision: Verburg meticulously manipulates her digital shots, altering their focus, depth of field and saturation.
"She knows this place so well, how does she view it afresh by photographing it?" Hunter Larsen asks rhetorically. "How does she communicate who the people are to us, the audience? But it's also just as much about her relationship with Spoleto and its inhabitants."
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