Monday, February 23, 2009

A Time for Reflection

Digging out after a late February snowstorm and now spending time at the computer reviewing some of my landscape photographs made in northern Vermont and in Italy. Especially this time of year, I am thinking about planting the garden, yearning for the smell of freshly tilled soil and the coming of spring. To perpetuate these thoughts, I am opening images from Umbria made over the past number of years and considering relationships between work made in northern Vermont and rural Italy.

I have inserted a couple of photographs in this blog which, although from slightly different cultures and working landscapes geographically (Irasburg, Vermont and Torre' de'l Colle, Umbria, Italy), I was drawn to these landscapes which share the omni-presence of agriculture in everyday life.

My focus over the next 6-8 months for the Art of Action project is the working landscape in northern Vermont. Although I will be photographing in an area of Vermont that I have spent almost forty years documenting, I plan to work from slightly different perspectives, using digital technology and the camera and scanner to elaborate upon what I envision to be traditional and variants upon Vermont's "working landscape" of the future.

There has been a major disconnect in American culture around the subject of food (since World War II), evidence of which has been the insidious decline of regional food systems when individuals and communities were more closely involved with, and responsible for, generating a fair portion of what they ate by gardening, raising and storing. When I grew up in northern Vermont in the 1950's, almost everyone had a garden and farm families, in particular, produced all of their food on their land other than the bi-yearly purchase of such staples as flour and sugar.

Since the 1970's, food coop's began to flourish and more recently, extraordinary food initiatives have begun, particularly in Vermont, where individuals and organizations are working hard toward encouraging regionally grown, high-quality food that will be available to all; K-College cafeterias, regional markets and cooperatives. Rationales for such extend far beyond the concept of localvore and revitalizing economies in outlying regions of Vermont, for by re-introducing this nutritous food to youth in school, and in the home, studies suggest a direct link between food quality and brain function and performance.


Clair said...

Nice post, John. I remember years ago, while pursuing my lit. degrees coming to the conclusion --when faced with the category "southern writing"--that it wasn't so much southern as it was rural. Novels in rural settings share so many characteristics that any "regional" idiosyncrasies are overshadowed. And, so it seems you find the same conclusion visually--rural Italy, rural Vermont. I am eager to follow your project and see what you come up with.

docjohn said...

How about the "rural vernacular working landscape" or some variant upon those words...?
A good amount of the southern writing
which I have read is often regional and rural, as with western writing, and writing which mines Appalachia.