Stephen DiRado (Clark University)
Bell pond, Freddie and Theresa, June 20, 1983
Renowned photographer and Clark University Professor Stephen Dirado has spent the past forty years photographing communities in and around Worcester, from the heyday of the Worcester Galleria, demolished in 2006, to the beaches and piers of the Massachusetts coast, to area classrooms (including Holy Cross), to the memory care facility where he accompanied his father during the final days of his struggle with Alzheimer’s. His photography has led him to develop deep relationships with “the individuals, families, businesses and places throughout this city.” While some work was commissioned by museums, he notes that “most are inspired by my personal connections to a diverse community that is in constant flux.”
During a visit to a Holy Cross CreateLab class at in 2022, DiRado described an early series of photographs that he took around Bell Pond, located atop Belmont Hill on the east side of Worcester. Nearly every afternoon until sunset in the summer of 1983, he documented the community of people that frequented this inner-city park. “By the end of the season I accumulated 1,000 photographs,” he writes. “It was the first body of work that legitimized my career as a documentary photographer.” The project concluded in 1984 with an exhibition in Worcester at the Grove Street Gallery.
Many of the people he photographed, and with whom he developed lasting relationships through his work, were, like Freddie pictured above, Hispanic and Latino residents of the area. A selection of their portraits appears below. The buildings in the background still stand. Gripping, unflinching, startlingly alive, DiRado’s photos offer testimony to the enduring human connections that make up our cities and communities.
You may see more of the Bell Pond series, as well as a wider collection of Stephen DiRado’s work, on his webpage ︎.