By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on March 7, 2021
The first time Kitty Hawk resident and Scotland native Anne Snape Parsons looked through a camera lens with the eyes of a photographer, she recalls the experience as being transported to a whole other world. “To me it was just absolute joy,” says the 75-year-old portrait photographer who discovered her talent behind the lens just six years ago.
This month, Parsons shares that talent and her passion for the stories of women who have accomplished, and are in the midst of accomplishing, amazing feats in their community in her exhibit, “Women Warriors: Past, Present, Future.” The exhibit, in celebration of Women’s History Month, will be on display at the Dare County Arts Council through March 27.
Parsons’ stunning portraits that now hang on the walls of the gallery evoke the strength, fortitude and impact of these 36 distinguished local women. Twelve of them depict historically influential women such as Joan of Arc and Florence Nightingale; 12 are local women who are at the height of their careers, including public figures such as community leader Tess Judge and Health Director Sheila Davis; and 12 are up-and-coming young women in the community, like golf phenom Katherine Schuster, who are already making their mark at a young age.
Featured in the exhibit, North Carolina Federation Coastal Scientist and Regional Manager Erin Fleckenstein models a mermaid dress of oysters. Currituck Beach Lighthouse Site Manager Meghan Agresto poses with her foot on a ladder, holding a lantern. First Flight’s Schuster, sporting an elegant dress, holds a golf club in one hand and golf ball in the other. Downtown Books owner Jamie Hope Anderson sits on and is surrounded by stacks of books.
Parsons told the Voice that the concept for the exhibit was born more than a year ago, when she was at a social gathering, and while talking with some young women, realized they were not familiar with 12th Century nun, healer and writer St. Hildegard von Bingen. Parsons threw out a few other names that were not familiar to the women.
“So, I thought, ‘That does it,’” Parsons said. And she enlisted women she knew to model for portraits depicting women of history – from Joan of Arc to Amelia Earhart. That initial project expanded into what is now the exhibit featuring the 36 Outer Banks women.
“When you think about how extraordinary they are, and all the other women and young women out there that haven’t been recognized, I’m just hoping by showcasing these women people will begin to recognize the work that is being done here is truly amazing,” said Parsons, who spent the last year photographing the women chosen for the exhibit.
Every woman featured in the exhibit has a story, Parsons points out. In the case of Anderson, the local small business owner describes her duties as “putting the right books in the right hands at the right time” and helping to make the community a better place to live.
As for being chosen to be featured in the Women Warriors exhibit, Anderson said, “I want to serve the community and our schools and our readers, so if being included is a recognition that I’m getting there, then that would be great because that’s what I get up every day and walk into that little store to try and do,” she explained.
Working with Parsons as a model, Anderson said, was both inspirational and fun. “She starts with a vision, and so everything just kind of falls into place for her…I just felt like she could already see it,” she asserts. “And if you could say any one thing to Anne Parsons that will make her bristle, it’s when a woman says, ‘I’m not photogenic,’” Anderson notes with a laugh.
For Ivanna Gonzalez-Sanchez, a First Flight High School senior and writer who is recognized in the exhibit for her volunteer experience and leadership abilities, she said being part of the exhibit was a very cool experience. “It was kind of like a dream,” she said of the photo shoot with Parsons. “There were all these beautiful dresses and you kind of get to pretend like this big celebrity.,”
She also said that being chosen for the exhibit helped her to reflect on all she’s done in the community – from volunteering as a coach to volunteering with the SPCA and Read Across America.
“Seeing that I did so much and that I was able to help my community in that quantity made me really proud and want to help even more,” she asserted.
For her part, Dare County Arts Council Program Director Jessica Sands describes the group chosen for the exhibit as “wonderful women in the Outer Banks community who make a difference in lots of people’s lives with whatever they are doing every day.”
She describes the exhibit as “like a museum when you walk in…these gorgeous, stylized, beautiful portraits. And it’s really amazing that you are going to walk in and recognize half the women on the wall.”
Sands adds that Women’s History Month is “a cool month to be celebrating history women, women in our community and girls who are aspiring to do great things. You know, there’s nothing better than that.”
Women of the Past: Yvonne Burdick, Janet Colearove, Jalen Endres, Audra Goldsmith, Samantha Crisp, Drew Sandridge, Kathy Horne, Hannah Hughes, Jennifer Parsons, Bobbie Perry, Linda Schnarwiler, Judi Smith, Pamela Smith and Barbara Williams.
Women of the Present: Meghan Agresto, Jamie Hope Anderson, Jan Collins, Sheila Davies, Erin Fleckenstein, Helen Ford, Courtney Gallop, Barbara Hanft, Tess Judge, Karen Sawin, Vikki Thompson, Quinn Capps.
Women of the Future: Eliana Altamirano, Donna Barrios, Catherine Crabtree, Ruby (Lucy) Duke, Brooklyn Endres, Cecille Ernst, Ivanna Gonzalez-Sanchez, Genesis (Cindy) Gregory, Ellie Prince Myers, Katherine Schuster, Taylor Sanders and Alyse Stewart.
“Women Warriors: Past, Present, Future.” The exhibit, in celebration of Women’s History Month, will be on display at the Dare County Arts Council through March 27. Dare County Arts Council, 300 Queen Elizabeth Ave. Manteo. Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 5pm. To learn more about Anne Snape Parsons visit her at Anne’s website.
Thank you to Townes Manning for photographing the opening for the women featured in the “Women Warriors: Past, Present, Future” exhibit on March 5 at the Dare Arts Gallery.