Display Cases in the Great Hall: Exhibition Archive

Willard Traub

3 November 2015 – 9 January 2016


Kentucky Wonder green beans, hardy pole beans that thrive in full sun, were special for photographer Willard Traub.(died on 25 August 2015). The beans grew outside his back door in Massachusetts. Productive staples yielding from early spring until first frost, sometimes they remained as frozen hulls on the vines, well beyond harvest time. Winding around metal fences and resilient despite weather, disease, and insects, their elegant forms remind of the wonder of nature in close familiar settings, outside a back door, or along a fence.

Traub’s photographs investigate patterns made by late beans, and the caress of light along their surfaces. Some are frozen in place, with contents intact, mummified by a cold snap on an early autumn night. Others sprout after late harvest, fresh volunteers that appear just when all hope of another crop fades, bringing a sense of renewal. Their forms are green ribbons of possibility.

The artist described them in his own words: Walking in my vegetable garden one December morning led me to the weather-beaten remnants of the summer’s harvest. Transparent and faded leaves, dried vines, and weathered pole bean; all of these dancing on the garden fence in the cold wind. I had recently completed photographing a series of black and white photographs of French funereal sculpture in Paris and now these beans in my own backyard suggested a sculptural photographic follow-up.

Photographs of the beans have been collected and shown at venues including the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; The Copley Society, Boston; Cleveland Museum of Art; De Cordova Museum; Cleveland Clinic Houston Center for Photography; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; and the AT&T Collection.

CASE ONE : KENTUCKY WONDER, dimensions variable, 10 x 8 inches
CASE TWO: VOLUNTEERS, dimensions variable, 10 x 8 inches

Curated by Lisa A. Banner