2009 Winners - Runner-up: Maureen Drennan
Maureen Drennan’s Meet Me in the Green Glen considers marijuana grower Ben as he goes about life and work on his farm in California. Ben occupies an ambiguous position in his community; growing pot in California is legal but still carries a sense of social and cultural stigma. Drennan’s photographs register a subtle sense of isolation amid Ben’s watery fields, clapboard home, and greenhouse, all deeply insulated from the clamor of the outside world. A tangible melancholy pervades Ben’s life: his dog and the pot plants he tends are his only visible companions. The artifacts of his existence—a pin-up poster in his barn, a set of binoculars perched awkwardly on a picnic table—feel like the traces of someone who looks in on the world rather than participating in it.
Drennan’s approach to the contentious matter of marijuana harvesting is striking in its quiet intimacy—a pleasant counterpoint to the primarily photojournalistic coverage of the issue. Interior images are infused with warm light and rich brown notes, Ben’s domestic space not being without its comforts. The sophisticated use of the color green roots Ben to both the earth and his crop of choice, allowing Drennan to maintain visual and conceptual continuity without explicitly depicting marijuana frame-to-frame. Slow, pacing shots encourage the viewer to look closely and contemplatively at an individual’s life as a pot grower and the intrinsic personal implications of that work rather than cast judgment on the issue at large.