Inspired by the boundless humanism in Walt Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Susannah Ray has developed a new series of photographs on the waterways of New York City. In his poem, Whitman calls out to the tides, the gulls, the ferry passengers, the light, the clouds, the ships, the sailors, the waves, the cities on the far shore. In his eyes, all humans are divine, their reflected faces anointed by “fine spokes of light” in the passing waters. At the Bronx Museum, Ray will present a selection of images captured specifically in the Bronx.
In its fuller scope, A Further Shore conjures the distant spires of Manhattan, as seen across the bays and harbors, rivers and creeks, and also returns the viewer to the far reaches of the outer boroughs. There, time moves according to season, ceaselessly circling back upon itself, eschewing the forward march of the grid. Daylight lengthens, the water warms and resounds with voices and motors. Daylight shortens, the waters cool into icy silence. Shoreline remnants tangle into fictive histories. Bridges arc from shore to shore, steel longings drawn between boroughs, eternally crossing the tides below.
A Further Shore reveals the waterways and shorelines of New York City as spaces of escape, revelation and transcendence. Like Whitman's poetry, the photographs plumb a communal human connection to the water, one that exists as potently now as it did in his century.
Susannah Ray is an adjunct Associate Professor of Photography at Hofstra University.