Kansas Land

Farm Photography by Larry Schwarm

The New Farmers Project by Photographer Bryon Darby, Designer Tim Hossler, and Sociologist Paul Stock

September 29, 2018 through March 10, 2019
Louise and S.O. Beren Gallery
John W. and Mildred L. Graves Gallery

What does the Kansas farm look like in 2018? What is life like for the fifth-generation farmer, working inherited land that has passed down over generations? What is life like for the first-generation, sustainable farmer?

Kansas Land features the recent work of two photographers, each working in collaboration with a team of researchers. Both Larry Schwarm's work on the National Science Foundation BACC:FLUD (Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers' Land Use Decisions) project and photographer Bryon Darby's imagery on The New Farmers Project with sociologist Paul Stock and designer Tim Hossler chronicle the life of farmers and the land they work in light of the social, economic, and environmental challenges of 2018.

Larry Schwarm's photographs are part of the National Science Foundation BACC:FLUD project. Bringing together more than a dozen researchers from various University of Kansas departments--economics, engineering, and anthropology, as well as two professors from Kansas State University--BACC:FLUD researched farmers' decisions to grow biofuel crops as well as investigating responses to climate change. Schwarm, a Kansas farm kid himself, aims to "put a face on the farmers whose land-use decisions are being studied" as they adapt to increased mechanization, changing markets, and erratic weather. Schwarm's evocative photographs document what has changed and what remains the same for those earning a living on the Kansas prairie. 

In The New Farmers Project, Darby, Hossler, and Stock investigated Kansans experimenting with what it means to be a farmer. Stock led the group in interviewing over 30 farmers and stakeholders, aiming to "understand who these people are that are entering farming in what is a very tough time to be a Kansas farmer." Darby documented these interviews with his photographs, while Hossler combined the photographs with interview text to create dynamic, immersive graphics. Together, they provide a vibrant picture of the "unceasing grind and constant wonder" of small-scale farming.

Both projects work to connect the arts and the land with the everyday lives of Kansans. WAM is eager to further this goal by organizing the exhibition and showcasing the projects together.

TOP LEFT: Larry Schwarm, Wheat Stubble off Grigston Lane, East of Scott City, Kansas, July 2012, 2012, printed 2018. Inkjet print, 26 x 36 inches. Collection of the artist

LOWER LEFT: Bryon Darby, Elliot, Kevin, and Jessi, Douglas County, Kansas, 2015, 2015,
printed 2018. Inkjet print, 36 x 48 inches. Collection of the artist

Kansas Land Sponsors and Donors

Kansas Land has been generously supported by the DeVore Foundation, Doug Brantner, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, and Sondra Langel. All WAM exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Wichita and Friends of the Wichita Art Museum. Exhibition public programs have been supported by Wichita's Arts Council.

 

 

 

 

Curator Talk: Kate Meyer

Wednesday, Jauary 23
6 pm | Kansas Land galleries open prior to the lecture.

Kate Meyer, curator at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas, will discuss Larry Schwarm’s photography project that is part of the Kansas Land exhibition.

Meyer and Schwarm were both part of the NASA-supported research project that investigated the decisions Kansas farmers make about their land use. Schwarm's photographic series Kansas Farmers is the product of this collaborative partnership.

Admission to the museum and the lecture is free.

Above: Larry Schwarm, Grain Silos at Sunset, North of Cullison, Kansas, November 2010, 2010, printed 2018. Inkjet print, 36 x 36. Collection of the artist.

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