Dear Meredith: Your photography is replete with flaws. Perfect, endearing flaws. Flaws that make your audience trust you, trust your impressions, embrace your sensibilities, and, at times, embrace your vision: when the image’s content is particularly powerful, when its form is fortunately composed, and when it causes the viewer to see something novel, something they’ve never seen before. Or, even better, when the work causes them to see something familiar, mundane, and commonplace in a fresh new way. When the work causes the viewer to see, truly see, something they see all the time. Something that’s been hiding in plain sight. And, as a result (an unavoidable result) of this seeing, to form new judgments about that which has been revealed. Perhaps it now seems grotesque and utterly immoral, whereas it once seemed altogether benign, unobjectionable: an unchanging (and thus unchangeable) feature of the world, our world, which doesn’t need to be accepted so much as it needs to be ignored. Perhaps it now seems breathtakingly beautiful, whereas it once seemed utterly plain, boring, and unremarkable.
In this moody and brilliantly composed photograph of the Montreal sky I’m looking at on Facebook right now, you’ve provided me with an entirely fresh perspective, a revelation really, in the form of a vista: a home-grown Montreal vista, which I thought possible only in some far off scenic place like Montana or Alberta. You know, somewhere in that hearty swath of fertile flat land that runs down the middle of our beloved continent, somewhere in that large yet poorly defined place often referred to as Big Sky Country. Lots of young people leave the flat farmlands of the Midwest in early adulthood. They find their way to one of our continental coasts and make lives for themselves in the bustling metropolises that dot the coastal regions of North America. They leave for many reasons, but, in my experience, they all (at some point) say that they miss the sky. And, because I’ve spent some time in the Midwest, I know what they’re talking about.
In Big Sky Country, the heavens occupy much more of your visual field. You can see for miles and miles in any direction. And the clouds are more expressive, though I couldn’t tell you how or why this is the case. One gets the impression that the Midwestern sky has a far greater visual vocabulary to draw upon; it’s more articulate than the Montreal sky; it can express a far greater range of emotions, and it can do so with greater precision. Hence my prejudice against the Montreal sky. But these pictures you’ve been taking lately, pictures of the Montreal sky, have made one thing clear: it can be far more expressive than I ever imagined. In showing me the expressive capacity of the Montreal sky, you’ve done, to my mind, precisely what good art so often does: namely, show us that what we believe to be OVER THERE, just beyond the horizon is in fact HERE, right here, at our feet, where we live, and available at all times.
—John Faithful Hamer, From Here: A Love Letter to Montréal (2017)