‘SmokeEaters’ Exhibit Coming to Banana Factory Highlights Dedication of Local Volunteer Firefighters
BETHLEHEM, PA—An intimate look into the day-to-day lives of the volunteer firefighters of Palmer Municipal Fire Department is the focus of photographer Peter Keady’s exhibit “SmokeEaters,” on display at Banana Factory’s Banko Family Room Gallery March 14-April 26. The opening reception for the show takes place on First Friday, April 3, 6-9 p.m. Keady will also hold an Artist Talk that evening.
Rather than focusing on fires and emergency calls, Keady sheds light on the people who are dedicated to saving lives. As Chaplain for Palmer Municipal Fire Department, he has seen firsthand the sacrifices made by the firefighters of Station 27. He captures their honor, integrity and passion through a total of 60 images in the exhibit.
Keady takes portraits and behind-the-scenes images in an editorial approach. SmokeEaters tells the firefighters’ stories with words and pictures, as each photo is accompanied with a powerful caption.
“The portraits allowed me a way to manipulate the feel of the show in order to be more evocative, to draw the viewer in more deeply,” says Keady. “One professional photographer told me he stared at one of the portraits for over five minutes, being captivated with the emotion and people portrayed.”
In April 2017, Keady came up with the idea for SmokeEaters after taking a color portrait of Tom “Pappy” Condosta, a Palmer firefighter who has since passed. The term ‘smoke eater’ refers to the time when firefighters did not have self-contained breathing apparatus and breathed in smoke while on the job. Keady notes that first responders endanger their lives in the line of duty, while experiencing sights, smells and sounds that can linger and later develop into post-traumatic stress disorder. Through his portraits, he hopes to show these individuals’ selflessness and heroism as they take on risks in service to their community.
“The purpose in displaying SmokeEaters is two-fold,” says Keady. “First, to honor the men and women of Palmer Municipal Fire Department – and really all first responders – and secondly, to bring awareness to the community of the kind of sacrifice and training volunteer firefighters undertake to serve their community.”
SmokeEaters is also sold as a book, with proceeds going to The Chaplain’s Scholarship at the Palmer Municipal Fire Department. Of the 60 images in the exhibit, 33 are included in the book. Signed copies of the publication will be available for sale at First Friday on April 3.
The Banana Factory is located at 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem. For more information on the exhibit, CLICK HERE.