Inside the Walls: An Intimate Look at the Elderly During COVID-19

Photographer Melinda Reyes' exhibit “Inside the Walls: An Intimate Look at the Elderly During COVID-19" will be on display at the Freedom Public Library in Freedom through March. (COURTESY PHOTO)

FREEDOM — Massachusetts-based documentary photographer Melinda Reyes has created “Inside the Walls: An Intimate Look at the Elderly During COVID-19,” a special exhibition focusing on the lives of the elderly who are isolated in nursing homes during the current pandemic.

This moving and poignant series will be on display at the Freedom Public Library in Freedom through March.

“Being on the front lines as a psychiatric clinician when COVID-19 infiltrated nursing homes and elderly complexes has affected me profoundly,” Reyes said. “Watching the lives of our most vulnerable population take a drastic turn compelled me to share the truths I saw and experienced since the onset of the pandemic.”

“Inside the Walls” portrays the lives of the elderly who were suddenly facing a new reality in quarantine in long-term care facilities. Reyes’ striking and emotional portraits capture their humanity, their resilience and their hope in the face of an uncertain fate. Viewers will find their stories inspiring and emotional.

“As many became ill and some perished, each death hit like the loss of family,” Reyes said. “More than just a statistic, it became paramount to me to embrace their identities, as their lives have immense value in understanding and shaping who we are today.”

Reyes has devoted her career to the idea of social justice, earning a BFA in photography at Rochester Institute of Photography and a master’s in social work from Simmons College.

She uses the power of photography to initiate awareness and change in vulnerable populations, such as children, the homeless and the elderly.

Her current work on display at the Freedom Public Library has already received significant attention, including the first-place award at The Photographer’s Eye.

The series was also part of a recent exhibition “Portraits of Self Isolation” at PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. Reyes’ previous documentary series, “The Quiet World of Aging” has garnered numerous national and international awards.

The Freedom Public Library, located at 38 Old Portland Road in the village of Freedom is open Tuesday and Thursday 2 to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday from noon to 3 p.m. Social-distancing measures are in place, masks are required, and numbers of visitors are limited to ensure safety.

For more information, call the Library at (603) 539-5176.

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