Project uncovers ‘The Soul of Basalt’ | AspenTimes.com

Project uncovers ‘The Soul of Basalt’

When searching for images evoking the soul of Basalt, Ruth Frey selected this ski fence and kayak. Forty photos by 20 Basaltines will be on display through Saturday at the Wyly Community Art Center in Basalt. (Courtesy Ruth Frey, Dianne Light)

When Dianne Light enlisted the help of 20 people to search for the soul of Basalt, she suspected it might be a one-dimensional journey.The 104-year-old town, after all, is most closely identified with the two rivers that run through it.Instead, Light’s helpers found soul in every nook and cranny of the town, and often in unexpected places.Borrowing a page from the “Born Into Brothels” project – where a researcher gave cameras to children of prostitutes in India and had them take pictures of their world – Light asked a diverse group of Basaltines to take two pictures each that they thought evoked the soul of Basalt.The project is part of Light’s pursuit of a doctorate degree in depth psychology. She is exploring what creates a sense of place for people in a charming, successful town like Basalt.

The photos for the project were as diverse as the photographers.Valley native and Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux got a scenic shot of cattle grazing in a pasture, honoring the town’s rich history of ranching.Ramony Arcadia, who moved to Basalt one year ago, included a photo of a child in church.Environmentalist and writer Paul Andersen produced a stunning picture of sunset in the Fryingpan Valley and another of storm clouds massing over Basalt Mountain. For him, images of Basalt’s natural environment represented an important part of its soul.Writer Ruth Frey found funk. She captured a classic old truck rusting in the tall grass of somebody’s yard and a funky old fence made of skis.

“I believe Basalt’s soul lies within its people,” Frey wrote in a description of her selections. “And one way that soul manifests itself is in displays of quirky individualism and by collective tolerance for that very nonconformity.”Thirteen-year-old Eleanor Bennett selected a shot of an apple blossom.The only professional photographer of the group, Karl Wolfgang, took eerily lit shots of a trailer home and a maintenance shed. Those are places that people typically pass by without noticing, but they still represent a certain side of the town’s soul, he wrote.Light was pleased with the diversity of images. “I thought I’d get a lot of pictures of the river,” she said. “I learned not to underestimate how in touch people are with the concept of soul.” The factors and qualities that create a sense of place are clearly important to people and something they think about, she said. As part of her pursuit of her doctorate, Light is describing the project and her findings in a 30-page paper.

Anderson said the photos reflected a dedicated, diverse community.”It showed that Basalt is a lot of things to a lot of people,” he said. “People love Basalt. They love this valley.”And they loved Light’s project. She was invited to display the photographs at the new home of the Wyly Community Art Center. An opening on Aug. 25 attracted hundreds of people. The display includes short biographies of the photographers, their reasons for selecting their images and a description of the project by Light.”The Soul of Basalt” will remain on display from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Saturday at the Wyly Community Art Center. It is located at 255 Gold Rivers Court, suite 130, in the back of the building beside the fisherman and trout woodcarving.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com