The Arts Council of Princeton introduces acclaimed fine art photographer Robin Resch as its Winter 2021 Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence. During her residency, Resch will continue work locally on her series, aptly named Taking Pause, in response to the challenges of this year and the COVID-19 pandemic. The completed portraits will be on display in Princeton’s Dohm Alley from April to October.
Taking Pause is a documentary, collaborative portrait project that asks people to reflect on what in their lives feels most essential. With what do we identify and connect most deeply? What truly matters to us and why?
Robin documents each participant with two distinct portraits: one of their physical self, and an accompanying portrait of their reflective self through what they choose to share. Each participant is then asked to tell the story behind their selection.
“At a time when our country feels so torn and disconnected, this project aims to reconnect and place trust with those we don’t know,” says Resch. “Crucial to this project is its collaborative nature that aspires to connect with people, share stories, and spend time together. In short, to take pause, to reflect.”
Work on this series began in early 2018 with a core group of participants from varying backgrounds. Between November 2018 and March 2019, Resch began to expand the project’s community and network exponentially by working with people across the United States, driving solo 10,553 miles from East to West along a southerly route that naturally evolved and was largely determined by the location of the contributors. Resch’s goal for this Princeton manifestation of her Taking Pause project is to capture as broad a spectrum of the local community as possible.
“Our lives are so diverse and we’ve all been impacted in similar and yet differing ways,” says Resch. “To some degree, it has been equalizing. In other ways it’s been polarizing. How has it impacted us? Have our values changed? Would we answer the question ‘what is irreplaceable to you?’ differently today than a year ago?” Her hope is to sow seeds for a conversation that may help heal in such a challenging time and that as a collaborative project, Taking Pause may help rebuild trust by addressing our fears and fostering communication and reflection.
Resch’s work with each participant culminates in two photos and their brief written text, creating a finished portrait set. Five portrait sets will be printed on vinyl banners and displayed in Dohm Alley, located near the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets, from April to October 2021, as a public art display, free and open to the public.
Robin Resch is a Princeton-based photographer who lived in Italy, France, and the Netherlands until 1998. She left Europe to pursue her Master’s in Architecture at Princeton University, which she combined with advanced photographic studies with Emmet Gowin and Andrew Moore. Her architectural training informs her documentary photographic work as she is particularly interested in making images that are about our personal environments as well as the impact on our collective environments. Her landscape photography, which is more abstract, seeks to explore our human experience of the natural environment.
Resch’s work has been exhibited at Princeton University’s Lucas Gallery, NRG’s Headquartes, the Pringle Gallery in Philadelphia, Design Within Reach, Princeton Project Space, the Arts Council of Princeton, and the Nassau Club. Her photographs have been published in the New York Times, the Witte de With Cahiers, the Rotterdams Dagblad, Italian GQ, and Princeton Magazine. Robin has maintained an active portrait studio since 2003. In 2012, she was honored to be the exclusive campaign photographer for the Princeton fundraising event with First Lady Michelle Obama.
This project would not be possible without the support of Timothy M. Andrews, a longtime friend and supporter of the Arts Council of Princeton, who has generously underwritten the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program for three years. The Arts Council also acknowledges The Bank of Princeton, Princeton University Humanities Council and Princeton Future for their generous support.
“My favorite fairy tale as a child was the story of a king who asks his three daughters how much they love him The two oldest declare their love with descriptions of great wealth. The youngest princess tells him she loves him as much as his salt. Her father becomes enraged and banishes her from his kingdom forever. After many years, the princess, living as an impoverished maid in the neighboring kingdom, wins the heart of a prince. She invites her father and her sister to the wedding (they don’t recognize her) and she orders the food at the wedding to be served without salt. The meal is so tasteless they can’t eat it, and the father understands the wisdom of his youngest daughter, and that she loved him best of all.
When I look at the salt box on my counter, beside the stove (or the ones I’ve saved over the years, like French women save their empty perfume bottles), I think of this story. I think of simple pleasures. I remember to value the things that seem ordinary because they are the most precious.”