It’s harvest time! After a summer of running farms, blogging, and drawing, the first body of work has been installed at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast, Maine. A year ago, when I was first invited to participate in the exhibit, I chafed a bit at the idea of completing didactic artwork on soil health or crop rotation, and I imagined creating a few small pieces to lend my voice to the issue of sustainable, healthy farming, after which I would quickly shift back to my other work. Instead, I find myself, a year later, with a transformed art practice and an ongoing project of running and drawing. Through this creative collaboration with the Maine Farmland Trust, I’ve discovered a new method of working. It has to do with the freedom of exploration that can occur within structure and the deeply satisfying artistic process that can emerge out of this context. In the case of the farm running and drawing project, it begins with dialogue–discussing the land and farm boundaries with the caretakers of the land, the farmers. It then involves a tactile, embodied experience–running the land. The run is followed with a writing process, during which the narrative and conceptual issues emerge (in this blog). Next, I sketch–creating piles of visual notes and experiments. Finally, the experience is condensed into a finished drawing. Three examples are included below, from my experiences at Broadturn Farm, Lakeside Orchards, and Tide Mill Farm. These drawings are part of the current exhibit, and pieces based on Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Mitchell Ledge Farm, and Old Crow Ranch are in process.
The current exhibit also includes 6 Perimeter drawings in graphite and watercolor on Yuppo–one for each of the farm experiences. Each drawing is echoed with a wall drawing in watercolor.
Tonight’s opening is a celebratory bookmark in the project. I’m grateful for the door that’s opened, leading me toward my future work. This week, I’ve begun contacting farmers, with the aim of running 6 more farms this fall. I’m ready for the awkward beginning of each new conversation, the unexpected adventure of each new run, and the richly satisfying process of condensation as the experience slowly transforms into art.