The Connecticut Farm Project: Celebrating the History, Heritage and Heroes of Agriculture in the Nutmeg State

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A new and growing collection of fine art photography by Jack McConnell seeks to bring attention to the experiences of Connecticut farmers and the struggle to save farmland. A video and photographs from the exhibit to be featured at the Farmland Preservation Celebration in Lebanon on Sept. 20th.

Photography, Farms

The CT Farm Project: Fine Art Photography Collection by Jack McConnell

More than anything, this project is about people. The farm is their medium. Farmers love the land and they love what they do.

The fertile soils of the Connecticut landscape has sustained generations of farmers who toil from dawn to dusk to work the land and grow the food to feed a hungry state. It also has inspired award-winning photographer Jack McConnell to document the hardscrabble life of farmers. The CT Farm Project is a new exhibit that celebrates the faces and places of farming in Nutmeg State.

Images from the CT Farm Project capture the rugged look, heartwarming feel and timeless character of life on the farm. Captivating B&W portraits of men and women, young and old, are studies in contrast. The deeply personal and moving images are offset in the exhibit with dramatic photographs of familiar farm machinery, animals and implements.

The CT Farm Project documents and celebrates the enormous efforts of present day farmers who care for their animals, maintain equipment, plant fields, harvest crops and market their products to the public. People who are passionate about farming and local food will fall in love with photographs of the CT Farm Project.

“This is an exciting time for farming, especially with the new interest in eating local and the national concerns about climate change that may jeopardize farming in the American heartland and breadbasket,” said McConnell. “More than anything, this project is about people. The farm is their medium. Farmers love the land and they love what they do.”

Photographs from CT Farm Project will be displayed at galleries and public spaces throughout the state with the purpose to support working farmers and raise awareness of the need to protect Connecticut farmland. Working closely with organizations including the Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farmland Trust and Northeast Organic Farming Association, the CT Farm Project will travel to venues including the Farmland Preservation Celebration, which will take place this Saturday, Sept. 20th. Two public exhibits are currently on display through Sept. 30th – a large collection of 57 photographs can be viewed at the Good News Café & Gallery in Woodbury, and 20 photographs decorate the walls of Firebox Restaurant Gallery in Hartford.

McConnell has visited more than 50 farms throughout Connecticut to date for the CT Farm Project including dairy and cattle farms, orchards and vineyards, produce growers and chicken farms. A video of images from the collection is set to music with an original song titled, “This Life Calls to Me,” which was written and performed by local musician Jack Collins from Chaplin.

Fine art prints and posters from the CT Farm Project are available for purchase. Farms interested in participating in the project and for more information, please visit http://www.jackmcconnellphotography.com/new-projects/, call Paula McNamara at 860.563.6154 or email at jack(at)jackmcconnellphotography(dot)com.

Artist Statement
After a decade of photographing the iconic stone walls that line the Connecticut landscape, McConnell turned his lens to capture the faces of the farmers who for generations have piled the rocks.

“As I stand in front of an old stone wall somewhere in Central Connecticut, up a side road away from cars and all the trappings of modern society, I feel myself being transported back 300 or more years. The stones were old, even then. Almost as old as time itself. I imagine a man, bent over the beginnings of a wall, stones scattered around him. A horse and sled behind him. He examines a stone, picks it up and carefully places it on the wall, working slowly, but steadily, around the perimeter of a small field. His sweat, mingled with the stone, imprints his DNA onto his labor, his wall. Centuries later I’m standing in exactly the same spot. I’m transfixed, Zen-like, contemplating the meaning of the stone wall’s existence. I wonder what his life was like. How did he even survive? I live only by the grace of modern medicine. He didn’t have that. I think how fortunate I am. I look again at the wall and meditate on being alive. I seek out contemporary farmers to understand what surviving on a farm is all about.”

About Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell is a professional photographer who began his career atop Mount Washington as a weather observer in 1956. Over the past 45 years he has traveled the world on commercial assignments for Fortune 500 clients. One of the most prolific photographers in Connecticut, McConnell has accumulated an archive of more than 250,000 stock photographs including images of New England towns and cities, aerials and skylines, public buildings and historic sites, seasonal landscapes and coastal images from Maine to Connecticut. Many of these photos can be seen at http://www.ConnecticutStockPhotography.com and http://www.JackMcConnellPhotography.com

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Mary Ann Dostaler

Paula McNamara
@madcomm
since: 10/2008
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