SATURDAY SOCIAL: David Hunsberger

7 July - 28 August 2022

David L. Hunsberger 1928-2005, was the son of Noah and Minnie Hunsberger. Noah was the minister at Erb Street Mennonite Church for many years. When David was 14 they moved to St. Jacobs, where David lived for 55 years.

Hunsberger, a professional photographer, documented the Ontario Mennonite community of which he was both a part, and apart from. Most compelling is his work from 1953- 1963 as it offers a portal to a unique community during a time of transition and transformation. His photographs of barnraisings, revival meetings and market days capture a collective experience delineated and expanded by portraits of individuals, all set against the landscape to which they belong.The simplicity of the resulting images is belied by the sophistication of his technique and compositions.Born in 1928, David L. Hunsberger took thousands of photographs over the course of his career as a commercial photographer. His choice of vocation was at odds with the beliefs of his community and their adherence to the old testament’s prohibition against using or creating ‘graven images’ and any practice that might spark or express vanity. That he was able to take these photographs, not from the outside looking in, but from within the community, is remarkable.This collection of his work is drawn from the earlier years, when, without the financial obligations of supporting a family he was able to explore his artistry and curate his curiosity.This collection offers much more than a documentation of a particular people, place and time. In these days of debate about difference and diversity it has something important to tell us about “othering” – about those who could look just like “us” choose to set themselves apart – and how this choice can both nurture and constrain both the observer and the observed.David L. Hunsberger’s work speaks not in emphatic and dogmatic tones but in a voice so thoughtful, measured and compelling we cannot but listen.