Art People: Sienna Wildfield of Chesterfield | photographer

Last modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014

For Sienna Wildfield, photography has long been a way to tell a story and document a particular moment in time. But in more recent years, it’s become part of a larger story she’s involved in. Wildfield, of West Chesterfield, is the founder and director of Hilltown Families, a nonprofit online organization she started in 2005 to build links between residents of small towns across western Massachusetts. Using the Internet, Hilltown Families helps people share ideas, spreads the news on events and activities, and works to increase participation in community life.

And Wildfield, who began taking pictures when she was 10, sees photography as one means to bring people together. For several years, she’s been documenting Hilltown life — fairs, produce from farmers markets, children at play, the change of seasons — with rich color photos that are part of her group’s extensive website, which also features her blog, essays from guest writers, podcasts and profiles of regional artists and activists.

Her photographs are also part of a traveling exhibit that’s been on view in several communities during the past two years, and which is now on display at the Easthampton Municipal Building. Though she once took photos mostly from an artistic standpoint, Wildfield says she currently looks at them as an extension of the work she does for Hilltown Families.

“It’s all of a piece,” she says. “To me, they’re about seeing the moment, capturing the kinds of scenes and images of Hilltown life that we write about and that we want to share with others.”

Once a firm believer in her 35mm camera and the darkroom, she became a somewhat reluctant convert to digital technology, but now sees it as a viable way to keep photography in her otherwise busy life. She usually takes her camera in her car so that she’ll be ready if a good image presents itself: “It’s the light that usually tells me it’s a good time to shoot.”

She’s also worked in black and white, shot landscapes, or sometimes focused on more abstract images, such as a series of close-ups of fire. One of the most arresting images in her exhibit is of two marshmallows being roasted over a campfire; the flames, in the background, at first glance look painted, in soft orange, yellow and green.

“I guess you could say my photos are part art, part documentary,” she says. “I like to combine the two if I can.”

Wildfield wears a number of other hats: She sits on Chesterfield’s Cultural Council, and she produces the Hilltown Family Variety Show on WXOJ 103.3 FM (Valley Free Radio) in Northampton, usually with her 11-year-old daughter, Persephone. She also tries to find time for her illustrations and creative writing.

And finally, her work with her nonprofit group is aimed at helping families make strong connections to the history and culture of their hometowns, in a way that children can use to supplement their school-based learning. If her photographs can lend strength to that overall effort, she says, “that’s something I’m happy to do.”

— Steve Pfarrer


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy