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Farming | Environment | Art. Friday, October 4th.

Farming | Environment | Art will open with a public reception on Friday, October 4th, from 5:30-8pm during the Belfast Art Walk. The show will be on display from October 4 through November 12, 2013.

During the month October, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery will be joining the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA), Waterfall Arts, and Unity College in their latest initiative: MEAD, which stands for Maine Environmental Art & Design. This season-long collaboration of Maine artists, curators, and supporters focused on applying art and design to the creation of elegant environmental solutions.


Various exhibitions, classes and events are being held this fall. (Read more on the web at http://meadmaine.org.) Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is staging a conceptual art show featuring six Maine artists who, in their own voices, are exploring issues regarding farming and environment.


Jeff Badger, a multimedia artist based in South Portland, will be contributing a window installation including sculpture, sound and repurposed materials. His process focuses on finding the visual ties between communications and farming/growing.


Avy Claire, an artist from the Blue Hill area, is contributing a wall installation comprised of seven photographic panels of oats ready for harvest at Horsepower Farm.  Similar to other large-scaled photographic projects, Claire has expanded the pixels of the image so that when viewing up close the image breaks down into an abstracted grid pattern. Once up close, the inserted text is revealed.  In this project, Claire used transcriptions of interviews she had with farmer, Paul Birdsall, and his family, along with articles Birdsall had written in the 1970’s about his experiences as a “greenhorn” starting out with horses.


“After spending the time listening to Paul Birdsall, retyping every word in the recorded conversation, interviewing his son and daughter-in-law who now run the farm, plus typing in Paul’s articles, I got to understand and learn much about this extraordinary man who has worked so hard for many years to preserve farmland in Maine. I also learned a lot about horses and using them on a small farm,” says the artist.


When invited to join this project last year, Lucinda Bliss literally “ran” with it: she decided she wanted to begin by visiting Maine farms and run along the boundaries of each property. In her own words, she explains: “Running is a way I feel connected to nature, and navigating the boundaries of farmland has been a process of experiencing the land and noting, in a bodily way, how farming is contained and what encroaches on its borders.  It has also brought back memories of my childhood on my mother’s farm in northern Vermont. Running clears the mind and heightens perception. It exists in opposition to the desire for instant gratification, and it is that appetite (for instant food, information, etc.) that is in part to blame for the devaluing of farming. Part two of the project has been to create drawings based on my experience of each farm run. For me, the final drawings speak to the power of direct relationship with the land and with our food, and underline the importance of farming in creating a healthy, vibrant human future.”


The six Maine farms that have been part of Bliss’ project are Mitchell Ledge Farm, Old Crow Ranch, Tide Mill Farm, Broadturn Farm, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Lakeside Orchards. Bliss’ final drawings will be exhibited as a wall installation in mixed media. It’s worth adding that this process has been so inspiring to the artist that it has greatly influenced her art: “It will be an ongoing project– I’m hooked on it!”


Robert Shetterly, known for his portrait series “Americans Who Tell the Truth”, is adding in several voices of courageous Americans from Maine and beyond. Among those the voice of Will Allen, former pro basketball player, more recently founder and CEO of Growing Power, a farm and community food center located half a mile from Milwaukee’s largest housing project and four miles from the nearest grocery store: As Shetterly explains: “In order to build a new food system, we’re going to need a world without fences. We all have responsibility to work together. We need everyone at the table. We’re going to need black and white, young and old, rich and poor. …Not least, we’re going to need a new generation of farmers. ”


Artist Susan Camp has been growing gourds in molds for a long time – a powerful sculptural medium which easily evokes a narrative regarding human impact on natural processes. Says Camp: “My gourd pieces often spring from concerns about industrial farming and GMO’s.” The gourd piece in this show is titled “The Long Shadow” and is meant to address unintended consequences of genetic engineering. It has previously been shown in a faculty show at the University of Maine at Orono, where she teaches, and as part of an exhibit in New York City.


Those familiar with the work of Kenny Cole can look forward to finding a large original wall drawing on one of the walls of Maine Farmland Trust Gallery. Cole explains the ideas he will be incorporating: “Part of my narrative is that it is really the industrial world that does the greatest damage to the environment, while the agricultural realm is certainly more conducive to environmental preservation. Therein lies a conflict, one that is historic and still plays out in our culture and society. We are currently striving to reclaim our world from violence and destruction and farming is an important enterprise that still holds many good solutions to a future that preserves the natural world.”


With this show, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery aims to stimulate dialogue about issues relating to farming and the environment.


“The best farmers are our best environmentalists,” explains John Piotti, the Trust’s executive director. “But this linkage is not always fully understood or obvious—so it’s useful for artists to help us think more deeply on this,” he added.


The views expressed by the individual artists in this show are not necessarily the views of Maine Farmland Trust.


Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street in Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am – 5pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide non-profit organization working to keep Maine’s farms farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate art in agriculture, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust, visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org

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