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Works of famous American photographer with Maine ties on display in Monson

Berenice Abbott was no stranger to the town of Monson.
Berenice Abbott was a central figure in the world of photography and no stranger to the town of...
Berenice Abbott was a central figure in the world of photography and no stranger to the town of Monson.(WABI)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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MONSON, Maine (WABI) - The work of a famous American photographer is on display in a small town in Piscataquis County.

Berenice Abbott was a central figure in the world of photography and no stranger to the town of Monson.

“I think everyone in town knew who she was and they knew that she was a photographer but they just saw her as one of them,” said Annaelee Libby, a Monson resident who met Abbott in her early 20s.

It’s been nearly 30 years Abbott’s death but her legacy still lives on in town.

“She was eccentric.,” said Libby. “There’s no doubt about that. You know all small towns have characters and maybe we can consider her one of those.”

In her early life Abbott traveled to Paris where she developed her skills under the mentorship of Man Ray.

Later on, Abbott would continue her career in New York.

In the early 60s she made her way to rural Maine, where her focus turned to the photography of scientific phenomena.

Ten of her science photographs are now on display at the Monson Public Library.

“It’s clear to me that the little that I’ve heard from people that did know her that she was a really important person in the community. She was a colorful character and that she was very much a friend of the library,” explained Tom Dallamora, director of Monson Public Library.

The photographs were in storage at the historical society for some time.

That was until Annalee Libby decided to start the Berenice Abbott Project and raise the money to mat and frame them and give them to the library.

Since Abbott lived nearby, Libby says she got to know Abbott through her grandmother.

“Eventually my husband and I bought her house in Blanchard where she had her dark room,” said Libby. “So, I would go and visit her and bake her a cake. We just became kind of friends.”

In addition to the framed prints, the library will also be hosting a variety of events to honor her.

A GoFundMe page has been made to help the library meet their goal of getting $2,000 to be able to place the prints on permanent display.

“I remember once someone asked me if she was living today would she be the photographer that we know her as. I would say yes. She had her mind set and she was going to achieve what she wanted to do,” said Libby.

The public is invited to attend a reception Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the library.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., Abbott’s biographer will be doing a virtual presentation.

Thanks to all the donors who have participated so far, we're over halfway there. Would you consider contributing to the preservation of our Documenting Science collection of Berenice Abbott prints?

Posted by Monson Public Library on Sunday, June 27, 2021

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