Holly Lynton Photography

Photographer Holly Lynton documents creating new body of work on sheep farming.

Photography project: Sheep farming in Massachusetts

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I’m starting this blog to document work in preparation for a solo show at Bernice Steinbaum Galley in Miami. 

Recently, I left New York for Massachusetts’ farm country where I’m working on a series of photographs entitled “Bare Handed” that depict wildlife biologists and farmers who work in tandem with nature.   The wildlife biologists range from black bear biologists to beekeepers.  The farms include small-scale turkey farms to vegetable farms run entirely by horsepower.  These farmers accept the associated risks of low impact farming when free-roaming chickens are lost to predators or organic tomatoes to blight.  This notion of facing risks is particularly immediate for a beekeeper that wears no protective clothing and catfish-noodlers that fish for seventy-pound catfish with bare hands.  I want to convey the transformation they undergo during their activity and the meditative, reverence they exhibit.  Their spiritual conviction for this way of life is something I seek to celebrate.  This series marks a departure from my previous work, where I explored my own back yard as if on safari.  Now, I seek individuals through research and recommendation to make their actions visible to the general public.  Much of the current literature and film presents the negative sides of industrial farming without enough celebration of the positive aspects of small scale, sustainable, local, organic farms.   My work is meant to offer solutions to the frightening news stories and documentary films that pervade popular culture.

I have been offered an exhibition opportunity to create a focused body of work within this overall larger project that will explore sustainable sheep farming. The request is for nine photographs at 40 x 50 inches that will be shown as a solo exhibition at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery November 2011 in Miami. 

For SOS Guilds I will be documenting the process of making these photographs on a blog as I create the photographic images this Summer 2011.  Given the short New England farming season these images will be made from late May through late August.  Subjects within sheep farming will include shearing, training animals for agriculture fairs, and working with sheep dogs.

Originally I was interested in the ritual of dressing the sheep in blankets and hoods to keep them clean during the fairs and expected that to be the focus of my images, which would be included in the overall series.  Now I am exploring sheep farming in its entirety.  I see the distinct contrast in behavior between local sustainable sheep farmers as compared to large ranchers out West.  After watching the documentary film Sweetgrass, I was struck by how much dominance over the animals was a theme.  With small sustainable farmers they exhibit a reverence instead.   It is this tension between dominance and reverence within agriculture, especially with that of livestock, that I hope to capture and explore.

I’d like to acknowledge Sustainable Organic Stewardship (S.O.S.) Guilds support in this endeavor.

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Written by Holly Lynton Photography

May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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