Waterville Creates “The Farm Tools Project,” an exhibit at the Ticonic Gallery, 10 Water St., Suite 106, and the Railroad Square Cinema Lobby, 17 Railroad Square, is set to open Monday, April 11. On view until June 17.
A visual exploration of the use of hand tools on small farms in Maine, this exhibit features cyanotype, an ancient form of non-toxic photography that relies on sunlight and water, according to a press release on the exhibition.
To create these images, artist Michel Droge and archaeologist Sarah Loftus traveled the state with a portable cyanotype kit and photographed tools with farmers in their fields. Droge and Loftus interviewed farmers about their practices, the importance of the tools they use, and how they interact with the land to produce and harvest food.
“Visiting these small farms and making hand tool prints gave me a deeper understanding of the great collaboration and interdependence of farmers, the land and our communities,” Droge said. “I have seen the creative process of farming through these hand tools, often passed down from generation to generation, and the love, magic and perseverance farmers use to cultivate the land and feed our communities. “
The tools depicted ask questions about innovation, as well as the resilience and resurgence of Maine’s small farms.
“We wanted to play with how we perceive everyday tools and how they actively shape the way we perceive and interact with the world,” Loftus said. “The tools are silent, but far from being silent partners. They reveal something of our collective capacity for invention and ingenuity, as well as our enormous power of devastation and destruction.
Farmers across the state are facing loss of livelihoods and significant health impacts due to contamination from PFAS, the so-called “eternal chemicals.” In recognition of the growing threat of PFAS to Maine farms, 100% of proceeds from the art sale will be donated to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Maine Farmland Trust’s PFAS Emergency Relief Fund. Administered jointly by the association and the trust, the PFAS Emergency Relief Fund provides short-term income replacement for farms that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified as having high PFAS contamination test; helps pay for initial PFAS testing at farms that choose to do their own testing; and supports access to mental health services for affected farmers.
The Farm Tools Project is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission and the Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regranting Program. Additional show support provided by Kennebec Savings Bank and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Participating farms included Black Kettle Farm, Lyman; Burke Hill Farm, Cherryfield; Atlantic College’s Peggy Rockefeller Farm, Mount Desert Island; Four Season Farm, Harborside; Frith Farm, Scarborough; Farm Girard, Lyman; Hurricane Valley Farm, West Falmouth; Ironwood Farm, Albion; and Villageside Farm, Liberty.
A reception will be held with the artists from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at the Ticonic Gallery. This event is free and open to the public.
Admission to the gallery is free. The Ticonic Gallery is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the Railroad Square Cinema Lobby is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
For more information, contact Mary Ellms at [email protected] or 207-509-3365.
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