Arts, History

Photo Exhibit of Migrant Workers to Open in Grafton

From GrandForksHerald.com, Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald, 1 Oct 2011.

“American Nile,” a photographic story of Hispanic migrant workers in the Red River Valley, will open Oct. 18 at Steve Larson Photography Studio in Grafton, a collaboration of the Grafton Fine Arts Club and the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks.

“American Nile,” a photographic story of Hispanic migrant workers in the Red River Valley, will open Oct. 18 at Steve Larson Photography Studio in Grafton, a collaboration of the Grafton Fine Arts Club and the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks.

The exhibit will run through Nov. 1 and will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. A public reception has been set for 7 p.m. Oct. 18.

“American Nile” is touring as part of the North Dakota Museum of Art’s rural arts initiative program, in which the museum delivers, installs and returns to take down the exhibition, free-of-charge to rural North Dakota communities. Each traveling exhibition remains with the community for two weeks, where it is monitored by local art council members and community volunteers.

The museum also provides reimbursements to North Dakota schools within a 50 to 60-mile radius of the exhibition host community. Schools wishing to visit the exhibition are eligible for busing, mileage and substitute teacher reimbursements, if need be. North Dakota schools should to call Peggy Bartunek in Grafton at (701) 352-2565 to organize a tour time.

The complete collection of 54 photographs and murals were given to the museum by the artists Tom Lindfors and Richard Faulkner.

“While the photos are only 15 years old, they are already historic documents that record an important time in the history of the Valley, a time that ended shortly after the photos were taken,” Laurel Reuter, executive director of NDMOA, said in a news release.

In words and pictures, American Nile tells the story of generations of people who migrated from Texas to the Red River Valley year after year to work in the sugar beet and potato fields while seeking a better life for their families. The photographs focus on the migrants’ faith, their devotion to family, and their dedication to hard work, the museum news release said.

The story is told through the eyes of Joe Campos, a migrant worker who first came to North Dakota in the back of a large truck when he was three weeks old. As a child he was rarely able to attend school, but eventually he gave up the fields to enroll at UND. Staying in Minnesota to go to college “was the best decision I have made concerning the future of my family,” Campos said.

The photographers, Tom Lindfors of Star Prairie, Wis., and Richard Faulkner of Bigfork, Minn., used the North Dakota Museum of Art as headquarters as they explored migrant life in the Red River Valley during the summer of 1995.

Lindfors’ photographs of American Indians at powwows were exhibited at the Museum of Art in 1994. He also has exhibited in Chicago; Gallup and Sante Fe, N.M.; and Zurich. Before moving to Star Prairie, Lindfors was president of the Chicago chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. Five of his images are in the permanent archives of the Polaroid Collection. His photographs have won prizes from the Mead Paper Corporation and from the Chicago YMCA.

Faulkner studied photojournalism at Texas Christian University and the University of Illinois in Chicago. He has worked in commercial photography and taught eighth grade science. He moved to Bigfork, a town of 385 in northern Minnesota, where he has worked in the head start program and as coordinator of outreach services for a community action agency in Itasca County.

Info: North Dakota Museum of Art, (701) 777-4195.

Source: GrandForksHerald.com, “Photo exhibit of migrant workers to open in Grafton” by Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald, 1 Oct 2011.

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