A Common Thread

by Dana Fleming

Through March 3rd, The Hermitage Museum is hosting the work of three acclaimed artists from Hampton Roads, Diana Laurel Caramat, Knox Garvin, and Kristin Skees, as they showcase their collaborative work in the exhibition Threads.

“I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected; I wanted to show the things that had to be appreciated." - Lewis Hine, Photographer,1939

American photographer, Lewis Hine was best known for capturing images of social injustice, he focused on child labor from the early to mid-1900’s.

Born in 1874, in Oshkosh, WI, he became a teacher of botany and nature studies at the Ethical Culture School in New York, before his interest in social welfare and reform prompted him to begin his first documentary series about immigrants on Ellis Island in 1905.

Hine left teaching to become an investigator and photographer for the National Labor Committee (NCLC), in 1908, and traveled the country extensively, recording images of child labor abuses, until 1916. He would finagle his way into factories and photograph the horrific conditions in which children were compelled to work.

Hine’s photographs captured the horrific plight of these children in real time, and he used them as slides, magazine articles and exhibitions to inspire social change; ultimately Hine’s images were instrumental in the passage of numerous child labor laws.

In 1911, Lewis Hine photographed the knitting mills in Norfolk, VA. His photographs show the faces and names of people whose labor helped in some measure, to fund the Hermitage Art Collection; their toil having been woven into the very fabric of the history of this city.  

It was Hine’s images that inspired three acclaimed Hampton Roads artists in a collaboration called Threads-an exhibit currently on display at the Hermitage Museum until March 3rd.

The artists who collaborated to create Threads each have strong ties to the region and to the city. The collaborative effort was developed in 2013 “in an effort to reveal the dignity and struggle in these underlying, often forgotten stories”.

Kristin Skees was raised in Birmingham, AL, and holds a BFA from the University of Alabama, an MFA from the University of Arizona and a MLIS also from the University of Alabama. She is now teaching in the Department of Fine Art and Art History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Knox Garvin teaches in Norfolk, when he’s not holding a fly rod, in pursuit of Nirvana, somewhere deep in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Diana Laurel Caramat is a graduate of VCUarts (2009) with a bachelor’s degree in Sculpture & Extended Media, as well as ‘Painting & Printmaking’.  She was awarded a fellowship at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2008. Most recently she has been the Associate Department Chair of the Visual Arts Department at the Governor’s School for the Arts, and she is currently pursuing her MFA in Sculpture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

The exhibit represents three perspectives on the evolution of the state of our society over time; from whence we came, where we find ourselves now, and the common threads that bind us together.

The Hermitage Museum is open Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat and Sun, 10-5, with house tours at ll:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Visit whro.org/TheScene for more pictures of this amazing exhibit.