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It’s a series of images that play in my mind more than any art I can remember.


— Ilisa Barbash, Curator of Visual Anthropology, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge

Do an ethnography - over time. Live there. Don't write it. But record it, photograph it, enter into it, then stretch it, shrink it, expand it, blow it to pieces. Then edit it tightly onto buildings and space and night.

Arc it to Buffalo and industry and oil and gold rushes and hopes of a home, and really hard work - with dialects from Walt Whitman.

I was so blown away by Breaking Ground. If my back felt better, I would have gone around for a 5th time. I'll be there tomorrow.


— Sara Elder, Ethnographic Filmmaker; Professor, University of Buffalo

I will never look at my machines the same way.                     — Jodi Cooksey, Safety Engineer, MIT Central Utilities Plant, Cambridge

The use of the Silo City Site was one of the best, if not the best I have ever seen, truly.                     — Avye Alexandres, Artist, Buffalo

It is rare that you make an effort to see something and come away feeling not just that it was worth it, but that your mind and heart have been changed in a tangible way.  Valery Lyman deserves a MacArthur fellowship.

   — Anne Lilly, Sculptor, Cambridge  

With Breaking Ground, Valery Lyman takes us to places that we don’t typically go, both physically and aesthetically. The camps of Standing Rock and the oil fields of the Dakotas may be familiar from news reports, but her visceral images bring us into these communities with a unique immediacy, honesty, and no little sympathy. This is the “other” America, a hard land far from the coasts. Here Lyman captures the harsh beauty of this rugged, unforgiving terrain and the tough people who call it home.


— Mark Lamster, Architectural Critic, Dallas Morning News

I'm not an art guy. I'm a hillbilly. But I'm really feeling something when I look at your work.


— local attendee / Midwest Manufacturing foreman, Tulsa

I have always felt empathy but the exhibit demands it. 


— Corrado De Gasperis / CEO, Comstock Mining Inc,  Nevada

The exhibit .... activated raw memories at the heart of a community’s struggle to make sense of its abandoned industrial past while exploring contested identities for its future.


— Matthew Mehalik / Executive Director, Breathe Project,  Pittsburgh

On the night of the exhibition we were thrilled to see people stream through the door, most of whom had never been inside the museum. Attendees were in awe of what they saw and spent a great deal of time engaging and discussing with the people around them. We literally had to start closing the museum to have people leave. Most of the catalogues were sold and we have continued to have sales from people who attended and wanted to come back and retrieve a copy. It is our hope that we will have Valery back and figure out a way to extend the time to see this amazing art in our unique space this fall.


— Barbara Elfman, Executive Director, Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, Boston, MA

This show was so inspired! A powerful body of photography and cultural commentary delivered in a unique environment to create a stunning multi-dimensional experience. I was moved and deeply impressed by the artist’s choices and the way these brought the material to life for us. Wow!! It was privilege to attend this.

— David VanVactor, local attendee / Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard University

I love these haunting photos. And then to see them displayed larger than life on these gigantic 19th century machines is beyond awesome... Breathtaking.

— Ann Seamans, local attendee / filmmaker, Bedford MA

taken by the Cambridge City Council
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