Traveling the world in black-and-white


Teresa Kruszewski’s new exhibition at the West Tisbury library, “Moments in Time,” records the world as she has seen it over the course of her photography career. We travel through places and times, seeing traces of what has caught her eye, like a slice from an eclectic visual biography.

About a year and a half after moving to New York City from Boston in 2005, Kruszewski jumped ship from her corporate world to pursue photography, thinking, “If not now, when? You have to follow your heart.”

Kruszewski writes in her artist bio, “In a place where things change overnight, Teresa took on the challenge to document buildings, events, and quiet moments that would disappear in a ‘New York minute.’” The sense of place, whether urban or in nature, permeates her wide-ranging works, which are like snapshots of any given moment.

Early on, Kruszewski acquired a used Leica film camera, which was popular with photojournalists in the 1950s and 1960s. Even when she shoots digitally, the photographs are processed on the back end to replicate the tonalities and grain you can get with film.

Kruszewski uses her technical facility to create engaging images. She employed a neutral-density filter, which is like putting a pair of sunglasses on the lens of a camera, in her gorgeous long horizontal seascape, “True Love.” This makes the white foam on the roiling waves pop as they rush toward us, and immediately conveys the winter chill of the day when she shot the Vineyard scene.

The two gems “Hauled” and “Main Sheet Lashing” capture the taste and feel of the sea air during an afternoon sail on Vineyard Sound aboard the schooner Liberté. Cropped close, the rigging becomes an abstract composition.

Interiors also capture Kruszewski’s eye. She takes us into Captain Bob Douglas’s boat shed, adjacent to the Black Dog on Vineyard Haven Harbor. Here, a large wood-planked dory hangs from a well-worn ceiling, creating an image of rich, contrasting textures and tones.

The dilapidated interior in “Room 5,” shot in the old 1895 Marine Hospital before the Martha’s Vineyard Museum renovated it, likewise provides an array of eye-catching textures. Standing at the entryway, the bright light emanating from the window straight ahead pulls us deep into the room, with its cracked and rippled floors, peeling paint, and deteriorating tin ceiling.

The wonderful rhythm created by the multiple exposures in “NYC Skyline” was a happy accident. Taken when still new to working with the Leica, Kruszewski didn’t load the film quite properly. But the ghostlike repetition of the skyscrapers marching across the picture plane, taken from the Circle Line boat that travels around Manhattan, keeps you looking to see just what exactly is going on.

Kruszewski moves in close again in “Park Avenue Tulip 2.” Shot from just below, we look up at the individual petals on the budding flowers, which appear illuminated by sunlight, making them stand out dramatically against the dark Manhattan buildings in the distance. She created this effect by using fast film, the speed of which allows for intentional overexposure, thus creating the brilliant blooms.

Kruszewski also creates evocative figurative work. There is sublime “grace” in her photograph of the same title, which shows a woman on the beach turned away from us, with a bare back, glistening shoulders, and flowing black hair that carries our eye down her torso and off the edge of the paper. There is a similar quietude in “Tattoos and Thoughts,” in which a boy and young man sit on the railing at the beach, lost in the tranquility of the sunny summer day. Kruszewski removed all the people and umbrellas behind the figures, making them stand out and increasing the sense of solitude.

The anonymous older woman in the distance, walking away from us down a narrow, tree-lined street, also conveys a solitary air. Although shot in Boston’s South End, the scene could be in Paris, Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, or any other city with intimate neighborhoods. Kruszewski says, “It can be wherever you like.”

In fact, while Kruszewski’s photographs were taken in Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, New York City, California, and other locales, she says, “While they are moments in time, they are just the ones I happen to experience. I’d rather people look at the work and connect with it if there’s a connection for them. And if not, to just enjoy what they see.”

“Moments in Time” is on view at the West Tisbury library through the end of March.

For more information about Teresa Kruszewski, see