Campbell picks his best photos to exhibit


Former longtime Addison Independent photographer Trent Campbell has pulled out some of his best images of Addison County people and will show the work at the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History beginning on April 2 in an exhibit titled, “The Faces of Addison County.” Independent photo/Steve James

JULIETTE HUNSDORFER — 5 at the time — of Shoreham gets a close-up look at a Lego robot being demonstrated in Middlebury College’s Bicentennial Hall in January 2013. The demonstration showcased several Lego robots that were built as part of a computer science January Term course. This is among the Trent Campbell photos that will be displayed at the Sheldon Museum. Independent photo/Trent Campbell

TRENT CAMPBELL IS captured “on the job” for the Addison Independent. Photo by Mark Bouvier

MIDDLEBURY — Trent Campbell’s legions of fans will soon be able to get a gander at some of his particularly prized pictures taken during his two-decade career as the Addison Independent’s photographer.

The 24 photos will be part of a show titled “The Faces of Addison County” that will be on exhibit at Middlebury’s Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History beginning Friday, April 2. The show includes Campbell’s favorite photos showing area residents of all ages at work, play, parades, Addison County Fair and Field Days and other familiar places.

Trent Campbell amassed a mountain of awards and other accolades for his uncanny knack for capturing joy, sorrow, apprehension and many other emotions on the faces of his subjects. Sadly, two major strokes in 2018 robbed him of his mobility and thus his ability to return to the field to practice his craft. He depends on a walker and his rock — spouse Nikki Juvan — to get around these days.

All of us in Addison County have missed seeing Campbell’s photos in the pages of the Independent.

Now, thanks to encouragement from nationally renowned photographer (and Middlebury resident) James Blair, some of Trent Campbell’s best work will again see the light of day.

The groundwork for the upcoming Sheldon show was laid last year. Blair — whose work featured prominently for decades in National Geographic Magazine — had just curated an exhibit of historic photos at the Sheldon.

“He approached me and said, ‘You should have a show; pick the photos and I’ll print them for you,’” Campbell recalled.

Sheldon Museum Executive Director Bill Brooks was pleased to provide wall space for a Campbell photography exhibit.

Fortunately, Trent still had electronic access to his Independent photo archives. So he spent several weeks combing through the many thousands of photos he’d taken, focusing on people, rather than places. He came up with his 24 favorites, and Blair started printing.

“It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to 24,” Campbell confessed.

But then came an obstacle: Framing. Trent and Nikki have been on a tight budget, and framing photos — especially 24 of them — can be a costly proposition.

Nikki solved part of that problem in short order. She learned of a grant program through the Vermont Arts Council, through which Trent secured $1,000. Blair and fellow members of a photographers’ club — to which he and Campbell belong — pooled their resources to cover the balance of the framing costs.

The Sheldon Museum remains closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Campbell’s show will be offered virtually beginning on Friday. Just log on to henrysheldonmuseum.org to see the collection of images. Want to see the photos in person? The exhibit will be open to the public at the downtown Middlebury museum for live viewing when the Park Street institution opens for real on July 12; the photo exhibit will remain on view until Sept. 11.

At the in-person show the Sheldon will display antique cameras from the museum’s collection to accompany Campbell’s contemporary work.

The virtual exhibit will feature the electronic images, and the museum plans to interview Campbell in the exhibit space once the photographs are hung at the Sheldon. The interview will be shown on the website.

Sheldon officials also plan to offer gallery talks during the run of the exhibit.

Sheldon Associate Director Mary Ward Manley said the exhibit will complement the Sheldon Museum’s Stewart-Swift Research Center’s almost complete collection of Middlebury’s newspapers dating from 1801 through 2014. This includes all issues of the Addison County Independent since its inception in 1946. The earlier newspapers were actually bound by Henry Sheldon.

“Knowing the importance of these newspapers in the Sheldon’s collection, it seems fitting that the museum would feature an exhibit of work by a contemporary award-wining photojournalist whose photographs of Addison County are relevant today and will be in the future,” Manley aid. “We hope that after viewing Trent’s photographs, visitors will leave with an impression of just how vibrant, diverse, and special Addison County is.”

People will have an opportunity to purchase the photographs through the Sheldon’s website, and once the museum is open, at the Sheldon. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sheldon Museum.

“It was a fun exercise to go through,” Campbell said of revisiting his oeuvre. “And it was something I was able to do in my (physical) condition.”

Campbell continues to receive physical therapy. Physicians are still searching for causes of another ailment he’s battling: neuropathy.

Still, he’s staying upbeat and looks forward to rejoining Project Independence, a program of Elderly Services of Addison County.

Until then, Campbell will have some fun reminiscing through some excellent photos.

“It’s been a great project, and has kept me going,” he said.

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