Down on the Farm exhibit shares aspects of history

Down on the Farm is a series of photographs put together by three Alberta artists as they explore the ideals and reflections of rural life.

Dawn Saunders Dahl, Aaron Falkenberg and David Bowering have all contributed work that represents a variety of aspects of an agriculture-based lifestyle. Each artist focuses on different aspects of rural living and has different styles to accentuate their chosen subjects.

The photos will be displayed at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery until July 23rd.

For Saunders Dahl, this project became about capturing the history of women in farming culture so that future generations may be able to better understand the roots of Alberta, and the role of women in developing the agriculture and farming industry.

“I’ve been doing a lot of family history reading over the last year, trying to find more information about one side of my family. We have bits and pieces all over the place. That’s why I started the project – I have such a lost history, and there are all these women around me that I grew up with on the farm, and all of these women’s history could become lost. Sure, we know it now, but I wanted to record it,” she said.

The inspiration of finding her family’s history blossomed into learning the history of farmers across Alberta. The more Saunders Dahl explored, the more concerned she became with the loss of farming communities.

Saunders Dahl developed an artist’s talk to go with the series of photographs that explores the decline of farming culture. She also explores the growing resurrection of farmers’ markets and the popularity of organic products.

Her hopes for visitors of the exhibit are for people to examine their family history, and to consider the effects of farmers on our lives. She wants people to be aware of food production and the growing changes in the rural farm communities.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for stories or photographs, and to understand where people came from. There is always the opportunity to donate images or stories to archives. We need to figure out our collective past, and what’s happening in our own province.”

The works of Falkenberg, Bowering and Saunders Dahl all provide insight into rural living through a variety of shooting styles and editing techniques. As a whole, the exhibit is meant to draw a map of how rural Alberta and its farming communities have grown, changed and been lost over the years.

“Through their works these artists not only explore Alberta’s farming community, but also take the viewer on a journey through this province’s past, its present and its possible future,” said Shane Golby, exhibit curator.

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