Let’s face it, it can be tough to keep our spirits up right now. Daily coronavirus case count updates remind us that it’s still dangerous out there. The most depressing spring fashion trend in recent memory, masks, has made its runway debut. And we’ve got a neighborhood watch culture that has residents wondering if their movements will wind up dissected on a popular community Facebook page.
Then there are the creatives in town, specifically a trio of women who have focused their camera lenses on the absurd, the comical, and the just plain outrageous. I’ve been following Julia Hicks de Peyster, Lynne Smith, and Beth Shedd pretty closely on social media over the last few weeks. Like, obsessively closely. As in, I can’t get through the day without these ladies, so they’d better keep posting.
If you could use a little irreverence in your life right now — and who couldn’t? — let me introduce you to these three Wellesley free spirits. You’re welcome.
Julia Hicks de Peyster
“Each one leaves my mouth more agape in awe and wonder.” — Facebook commenter
When the Getty Museum earlier this month issued a playful challenge to re-create famous artworks using objects lying around the home, Julia Hicks de Peyster answered the call. In her images, de Peyster explores the symbolism inherent in everyday household items. She employs camera filters and raw emotion to convey the various moods she is trying to capture. In the three shots below, de Peyster moves through different time periods. Her use of found items, however, signals her consistent message of hope for a world in which no one need want for toilet paper.
Lynne Smith — the only one we know who can stand out at an Elton John show
Wellesley resident and theme-dresser Lynne Smith, the ubiquitous Red Sox fanatic whose Fenway-inspired get-ups have been covered by everyone from us to the Today Show, hasn’t let a little thing like global pandemic hide her light under a bushel. At time when the rest of us are slogging about in sweatpants, Smith has been plumbing the depths of her commodious closet and posting a runway show of sorts. This “best of” Lynne Smith Facebook photo feed has kept me in good spirits all month.
If you aren’t familiar with this fashionista who regularly grants charitable groups and auction winners a look at her closet with its custom-made Red Sox memorabilia (she wears a necklace with a picture of each of the starters for every game), accompanied with stories galore, you will be now. Given this season’s state of baseball, Lynne’s a little heartbroken. But when the going gets tough, and the tough can’t go shopping, the tough get creative. Lynne’s friends describe her as a “cross between Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett.” That sounds about right.
Beth Shedd, positivity role model
You may recognize Beth Shedd’s work from her 2019 project, Wellesley Wednesdays, in which she featured a photograph of people in town and their stories, then posted the results on her Instagram account. In the face of these current unprecedented times, Shedd went on the hunt for silver linings and came up with a new photographic series: Wellesley Home-Days.
To capture her subjects, Shedd goes door to door (but not within 20 feet) to, as she says, “photograph people who are doing the best they can to find happiness during these uncertain times. I loved the photo journalistic angle of my Wellesley Wednesdays series last year, so when the threat of this covid-social-isolation began in March, I decided to focus my lens on the many good things that are coming from being isolated at home in Wellesley.”
Leave it to Shedd to find joy in the everyday, no matter what that day may bring.