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Why invest in ECA+?

Photographer, founding member and ECA+ supporter, Denise M. Riggs explains why she invests in this city arts organization.

The Easthampton community enjoys a unique investment opportunity with the arts. We should not squander it." -- Denise M. Riggs

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Why Easthampton?

I moved to Easthampton tens years ago. My husband and I were driving up to this area from Connecticut almost every weekend for theater, music, restaurants and galleries. It was an easy decision to focus our search here when we decided to buy a home. Easthampton is such a beautiful little city and the Valley is filled with so many cultural assets. I am happy and comfortable here and very proud to be a part of this community.

How did you come to be part of ECA+?

In 2004, City Grant Writer, Ellen Koteen asked me to get involved with a new initiative the City was organizing. Its goal was to build relationships between the City’s artists and businesses to help foster Easthampton’s creative economy. Having spent many years volunteering with the Easthampton Cultural Council and Arts Easthampton, it was an easy segway. I strongly believe the arts help build a vibrant community and can be a strong economic engine. I was happy to work alongside the local government and others who shared this belief to eventually form ECA+.


How long have you been doing photography?

Looking back, I now know it was my sister that lit the spark for me in high school but I didn’t pick up a camera seriously until college. After investigating lots of other mediums, I was in my junior year at the Savannah College of Art & Design when I decided the camera was how I wanted to make my art and declared my major in photography. I worked exclusively with a large format 8x10 field camera for many years and eventually moved to the smaller format that I use today.

What is your photographic creative process?

For about six years now I have focused my eye on reflections. The compositions l find in everyday life seem to be manipulated or “Photoshopped” but they are there for anybody to see. These apparently abstract or composed vignettes fascinate me. I am drawn to urban imagery, sunlit hard edges, metal, windows, concrete, graphic patterns, color, and pedestrians. When I find all these elements layered together I get very excited. I especially like the puzzle it creates for the viewer to figure out.


What's an ECA+ experience that has impacted you?

Having just completed Bear Fest 2012 I am once again amazed by the power of like-minded people and what they can accomplish together. The ECA+ Coordinating Committee has twice taken on the tremendous task of this public art project and twice raised over $50,000! It’s an accomplishment to be celebrated by many and for my part makes me especially proud and happy. It’s enormously validating to know so many folks in this community share the belief that art matters, that the arts are a fundamental aspect of life and should be accessible to everyone.

Why should one invest in ECA+?

I view supporting the arts as a “self-interest investment.” I invest in ECA+ because I believe the arts define who we are; they are a collective expression of humanity. I believe the arts are essential to the general welfare of this community. The artist cluster in this area has created a scene that folks are talking about and that scene is becoming a destination and an economic engine for Easthampton. The creative sector is a vital economic driver in Easthampton, a growth industry that supports jobs, generates commercial and government revenue, provides a foundation for tourism and makes substantial contributions to our quality of life. Its continuing health is a core element of community and local business prosperity. The Easthampton community enjoys a unique investment opportunity with the arts. We should not squander it. ECA+ focuses the power of the arts to educate, energize and bring people together within the Easthampton community and I believe that power is worth investing both my time and money.

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Denise M.Riggs
Denise M. Riggs


Denise Riggs


 Photo by Denise Riggs

photographs by
Denise M. Riggs