Picks and Pans Review: Inner Light: the Shaker Legacy

updated 05/06/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/06/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Photographs by Linda Butler

The Shakers, a sect derived from English Quakers, have existed since the mid-18th century. "Today, just two communities remain active," writes June Sprigg in the introduction to this portfolio of beautiful photographs, "with fewer than a dozen members combined, in Maine and New Hampshire.... There are still some buildings where Shakers dwell, rooms warm and full with the business of life.... It has been those other rooms, the quiet empty places, that have drawn us in the making of this book." A spiral stairway in Kentucky is flawlessly designed with the simplicity of a contemporary masterwork. A meeting room in Sabbathday Lake, Maine evokes awe in the symmetry of its windows and beams and spoked benches. Two wooden bowls with a rolling pin in a kitchen in Hancock, Mass. are warm reminders of a special way of life that has almost vanished. Butler, a free-lancer, makes the light in her photographs all but tangible as it falls on the white-walled rooms, the wood tones, the textures of straw in brooms and hats, of threads in gloves and crisp ribbons on bonnets. This is a soothing book. Looking through its pages is like praying. (Knopf, $19.95)

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