I’ve known Neal Rantoul for several decades. During that time, Neal was the head of the Photo Program at Northeastern University in Boston as well as an extensively exhibited and collected fine arts photographer. Neal continues to create new work and recently he sent me information and images from his latest series, Shirley.
Neal’s background on the series:
Quiet? Unassuming? The Shirley pictures sit there passively and are made as large prints, presented in sequence, sliding from left to right just as I took them. Residing somewhere between color and black and white, the pictures resonate with this photographer at 76 years old. On a personal level, they are somewhat aligned with earlier works: Younvtille, Hershey, Portland, and so on. But also these new ones utilize current day digital processing. They ask some participation from the viewer, and invite a pursuit of a search for a subtext. The key in to the pictures starts with the one that has the inscription on the stone, and then goes on to the family who own the oil delivery business at the end. This is a visual statement about closeness and living a life of work, of family commitments and responsibilities, and of lifelong love. Lastly, the end picture of the side of the house owned by the family whose business is oil delivery, embodies pieces and parts of renovation, some expansion when the family was growing, but seems to tell a story as much on the exterior of the home as what would be found the inside as well. It also is the inevitable conclusion, working as a summary. The series shows is a rural side street a little past its prime, enhanced by the barren trees and remaining snow. Clearly the work needs study in order to reveal its content. And finally, my series work is very much a narrative, often taking us on a literal and metaphoric path from a start to a finish. Shirley is no exception.
Images and information about the series are below.