Built to Last | Shenan Prestwich

“Built to Last” is a collection of photographs of abandoned structures in the Shenandoah Valley. From houses to barns to small cottages and storage sheds; from construction material once intended to be a part of something larger—now an epitaph for what is, what can be, and what fails to stay—to a tree struck by lightning, charred and stripped of its leaves, yet still standing, naked and seeming to proclaim something to the mountain before it. These are all photographs of what used to be vessels of life: the slats and foundations of places in which people played out the narratives of who they were and what they experienced. While seemingly still and stagnant now, they are not empty; there’s a pulse of life that still vibrates from within them, though it’s a pulse of something we can only ever see the shadow of, reflected on what’s left of the walls, and not the thing itself. It’s something we will never be able to be a part of, though we hear its echoes.

Shenan Prestwich is a research analyst by day, poet and amateur shutter-bug by night…and some days too. She’s a graduate of James Madison University’s archaeology program and Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Writing program, neither of which have anything to do with her photos, or her day job. In addition to wearing many hats, she enjoys the great outdoors, craft beer, yoga, singing overly-confident karaoke, and co-editing Magic Lantern Review, a journal of poetry and film. She lives with her husband and two cats in Rosslyn, VA.

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