POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Like most Pound Ridge residents after Hurricane Sandy, artist and photographer Donna Simons was without power and needed help.
“I was going to pick up supplies for myself. When I walked into the Town House, there was sense of dire urgency,” Simons recalled. “[Police] Chief Ryan was talking to someone about how there was so many seniors that couldn’t be reached and how the roads are blocked, communications down. When I saw this, I realized I shouldn’t worry just about me and I should stay and help.”
The Office of Emergency Management recruited Simons and gave her a list of homes with seniors who needed to be checked and a list of firewood and dry ice deliveries to be made.
Throughout it all, Simons kept her trusty camera with her and began to record what she was seeing in the aftermath of the storm.
“I felt that what was happening was important to document,” said Simons, who owns Donna Simons Studios. “It was one of the most incredible examples of community that I have ever seen. People were incredibly generous with their time and resources, and they all wanted to find anyway they could to help.”
When Arts Westchester put out a call for entries for an exhibit called “Hurricane Sandy: Through the Lens of Local Photographers,” Simons decided to enter some of her shots.
“The call for entries initially asked for us to show the aftermath and destruction of the hurricane,” Simons said. “I had many of those pictures, but I chose not to submit them and instead chose the ones that told the story of our town – it was much more important for me to tell that story. I wrote to the curator, and apologized and said, 'I didn’t quite answer your call for entries – I hope that was OK.' I was prepared to have all my entries rejected, but she said it was more than OK.”
Four of Simons’ pictures were chosen, including a collage of shots depicting scenes from around town.
“I don’t really call myself a photographer. I use my camera in a documentary form,” she said. “I have lived here almost 20 years and [what happened after the storm] just seemed extraordinary. There was a lot I wanted to photograph, but I was busy doing what we were doing and I had no time. I don’t see this being about me as a photographer. It’s me telling a story and documenting a historic event.”
The exhibition will be held March 22 to April 27 with an opening reception March 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 with proceeds going to benefit the Westchester Chapter of the Habitat for Humanity. Arts Westchester is located at 31 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains.
“I would like to invite the entire community to the reception, many of whom are represented in the photographs,” Simons said.
Residents can RSVP for the opening on the website for Arts Westchester.