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Wild Place: Deborah Mills Thackrey
A conversation with Deborah Mills Thackrey about what makes Kingston, New York Great

Doug Menuez by Doug Menuez on May 1, 2019

Wild Place is the English translation of Wiltwyck, the original name given to Kingston, New York, in 1661 by the Dutch who were facing fierce resistance from local Native Americans. My wife Tereza and I recently moved back to Kingston after a decade away and can see and sense a lot of changes, with more to come. It seems like an important moment. As a documentary photographer and artist I am very interested in understanding our community and finding connections that remind us of our shared humanity in the midst of transition. By shooting a series of portraits and video interviews of folks from all walks of Kingston life, I’m doing just that. There are more artists per capita here than any city in America, according to BusinessWeek, and a large number of young people, families and retirees arriving every week from New York City, Austin, Seattle and even San Francisco. There are a host of new world-class restaurants, small tech startups and new factory to loft conversions. This growth means that the challenge of gentrification is rising along with income disparity. Concerns about these changes are apparent in some interviews, which you can watch below. When I look back on the places we’ve lived over the years it was always the relationships that made a place our home - this project is starting to make us feel at home. Thanks to everyone who has participated and to those who participate in the future.

“I moved from Silicon Valley to Kingston about 6 and a half years ago,
and it's the best thing I ever did.”

- Deborah Mills Thackrey

DM: Who are you?

DMT: I'm Deborah Mills Thackery. I'm a photographic artist, and I'm currently exploring printing my mostly abstract images on fabric and then doing all kinds of things with that.

How long have you been in Kingston?

DMT: I moved from Silicon Valley to Kingston about 6 and a half years ago, and it's the best thing I ever did.

What gives you joy about Kingston?

DMT: I love the atmosphere, the old houses, the history, the Hudson River is amazing, being close to the mountains, nature, but mostly the arts community here has just been amazing for me. I feel like I'm in my element.

What, if anything, would you change about Kingston?

DMT: I don't know. Thinking about what I would change about Kingston is ... I'd have to put some thought into it. I do feel there are so many pluses, but maybe there are a little bit of distance between the different communities. And I think people are working on bringing people together and that's a part of the area that I really enjoy, but, you know, I don't like it when I feel like people are isolated into different camps.

What is your secret hope for the future?

DMT: Gee, my secret hope for my future. I just want to continue to try to create beauty in the world, and find ways to experiment and explore, and find things that feed my soul, which I feel like I've been lucky to have a little bit a taste of that recently.

A special thanks to artist Deborah Mills Thackrey for producing the project.

All images above ©2019 Doug Menuez. All rights reserved.

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Doug MenuezDocumentary photographer and director Doug Menuez once stood at the North Pole, crossed the Sahara, had tea with Stalin's daughter and held a chunk of Einstein's brain. Quitting his blues band in 1981, he began his career freelancing for Time, LIFE, Newsweek, Fortune, USA Today, the New York Times Magazine and many other publications. He covered the AIDS crisis, homelessness in America, politics, five Super Bowls and the Olympics. His portrait assignments included Presidents Bush, Sr. and Clinton, Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Lenny Kravitz, Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall and Hugh Jackman. His award-winning advertising campaigns and corporate projects for global brands include Chevrolet, FedEx, Nikon, GE, Chevron, HP, Coca Cola, Emirates Airlines, Charles Schwab and Microsoft.

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