To the photos:
n my work I photograph people who have a deep felt sense of tradition. For a year of days beginning in the Autumn of 1999, I lived in a remote village in the Maramuresh region of northern Transylvania, Romania. This area came to my attention through my love of Balkan Folk Dancing. My research revealed the Maramuresh region to be unique amongst the former Soviet Bloc for the way it had preserved its way of life. After World War II, for forty years of communist rule, a few valleys in Maramuresh escaped collectivized farming because of poor soil and hilly landscape. In the post cold-war period, preservation continues because of pervasive impoverishment which slows the advancement of modernity into the reaches of northern Transylvania.

But nothing will stand still forever. While the older generation still don winter footwear that pre-date the Romans, the younger generation flock to market to buy shoes bearing that ubiquitous swoosh of western manufacture.

My purpose is to capture and convey images of their way of life before it becomes further compromised by globalization. In our modern world, we often feel we have “lost” something important, something precious. Though they do not know it now, these peasants are loosing their customs in the same way our forebears lost theirs. They do not see themselves as beautiful or special, because they feel poor and ordinary. But I hope to show they embody beauty because of the way they have spent their days walking paths trodden by their grandparents. Because of the way their lives have become well worn like an old wooden spoon.

Caption text by Henry Woods McLaughlin

 

Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin can be reached via email at

To see more of Kathleen's work, go to her Web site: www.leafpile.com

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