Masterful is an exploration, a telling of the skills of a time gone by – a collision of art and human connection through artisanry. Boat restoration, sheep shearers, potters, bookbinders and more have become my subjects in this on-going project that takes a deeper look at the skills and the hands that know them to create, connect, and bring centuries of human skill to an increasingly mechanized and automated society.
Just 15 miles from my home in a small rural town in Appalachia there’s an old boathouse nestled on the lake, built in the 1950’s, where 2 best friends have worked side-by-side for the last 45 years repairing and restoring vintage wooden boats. I photographed them in 2019 and their months-long process of restoration. No 3-D printers, no computerized design programs – just tools, sandpaper, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of labor, a lifetime of experience, and hands that know how to bend, carve, curve, and shape a boat to it’s former glory. With no one to hand this business down to, I was struck by the innate beauty and specific skill-set required for their work and it’s potential to be lost over time.