Salem Witch Exhibit Redefines What It Means To Be A Witch In The Modern Age


Various photographs by Frances F. Denny, Shine (New York, New York). Images curtsey of Kristen Levesque

SALEM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – The Peabody Essex Museum is featuring an exhibit of modern-day witches just in time for Halloween in the Witch City.

The exhibit, entitled “Arcana: Portraits of Witches in America, 13 Photographs of Modern-Day Witches,” features prints from New York photographer Frances F. Denny.

Denny is related to a judge from the Salem Witch Trials as well as a woman who was accused of being a witch during that time. For the project, Denny photographed more than 75 people from around the country who self-identify as a witch.

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Each of the photographs is accompanied by quotes from the witch in the picture. The purpose was to provide a contemporary understanding of witches and witchcraft as opposed to the 17th century understanding.

“Our understanding is really diversified by this portrait project.” said Curator Lydia Gordon. She said the exhibit challenges the common notions of how a witch is defined.

“One thing that we learn is that every witch is different,” Gordon said. “Contemporary witches occupy a spectrum of identities from healers and activists and shaman to religious affiliations, wiccans, [and] high priestesses.”

Denny’s photographs are included in the exhibition “The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming” and are on view through March 20, 2022. A preview of Denny's portfolio can be found on her website.

WBZ’s Carl Stevens (@carlwbz) opened his eyes to this story:

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