Cheryle St. Onge
Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Photography
Competition: US & Canada
Cheryle St. Onge was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the only child of a physics professor and a painter. She grew up on college campus and on the back of a red roan pony. She cites making pictures with a view camera as the pivotal point where, short of horses, she discovered her next passion. Her photographs have been widely exhibited, most notably at Princeton University, University of Rhode Island, Massachusetts College of Art, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and in an American Institute of Architects traveling exhibition. Her photographs have been included in four books and she has received numerous awards and residencies, among them a Polaroid Materials Grant.
Ms. St. Onge received a M.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, studying under Nick Nixon and Barbara Bosworth, and interned at M.I.T. contact printing the archives of Dr. Harold Edgerton. For over a decade, she taught photography at Clark University, and art & writing workshops for high school students at the Worcester Art Museum. Ms. St. Onge has guest lectured at the University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, and New England A.S.I C. She divides her time with her family between Durham, New Hampshire, and coastal Maine.
My Grandmother collected seeds. She pulled them from plants in formal gardens from far-flung parts, from dunes when she came to visit, from the hedgerow circling in our neighbor’s field. When she died I was given a wooden box of her cache. Seeds . . . all stored in small glass jars. I would hold them up, looking and remembering, and speculate on the potential of this dust spec. Sometimes there was a note inside in her thin loopy cursive: Arboretum, Lansing, Michigan, and the dried thistle tumbling in its clear vial.
My pictures, in the tradition of natural collections, are about observation and knowledge, about wanting to learn more, about a long look and the wonder. When my children find a frog, put it in a mayonnaise bottle and stare, I was reminded that I am still in awe of our natural environment, and in love with the limitless scrutiny that is possible though a photograph. Our wonder at what has been collected and contained in that jar, box, or bag. The collection and process are still part science and part magic.
I make pictures with an 8 x 10 view camera.