Maine Farmland Trust’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center has named its four artists-in-residence for summer 2020. In the art center’s fifth year, things are looking a little different because of the pandemic, as all of the residencies will be virtual.

The residencies are a way for each artist to further their work as it reflects on agriculture, environment and current times. In lieu of Open Studio Days at the art center in Jefferson, three end-of-month online events will be virtually shared to show what the summer residents are up to.

Katie Addada Shlon Photo by Katie Addada Shlon

In July, Katie Addada Shlon of Baltimore will be the performance artist in virtual residence. She uses the natural environment as a collaborator in their work. Their current body of work focuses on creating new instruments for sound, departing from traditional forms and structures to reframe our experience of music as bodied participants. “Viewing the land as a living system which requires love and care, I turn my focus to restorative and regenerative agriculture practices which serve that need. The issues of public health, land health, individual health, growth, and nourishment are all connected but can be made invisible in everyday life,” said Shlon. Join her and several guests from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, to learn about their work and how it engages our food system. To RSVP for this event, visit donate-now.mainefarmlandtrust.org.

In August, two virtual residents will be followed — visual arts resident James Southard of Kentucky and academic writing resident Sophie Kelmenson of Massachusetts. Southard is working on a new project that brings attention to small scale farmers of the central and eastern Kentucky region. He “wishes to highlight some of the concerns, hopes and future plans that face farmers of the bluegrass, especially in times like these, where the pandemic is causing unprecedented pressure on our food system.” James has done similar projects in Cuba, Korea, Wyoming and Vermont. Kelmenson will focus on finishing her dissertation titled Challenges to and challenges from scale in alternative food systems.

Her dissertation “explores the promise of using alternative food systems as a mechanism for sustainable economic development that combats a barrage of negative impacts on human health and the environment, loss of small farms and food businesses, and the increasing reliance on inequitable labor practices that are associated with industrial agriculture (Fryar, Carroll, & Ogden, 2010; Drewnowski & Spector, 2004; Lyson, Stevenson, & Welsh, 2008).” Join them and several guests from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, for a chance to learn more about their work.

Margot Kelley of Maine, literary arts resident, will be the virtual resident in September. The research for her new project, a non-fiction book on seed saving, will focus on seed keeping and seed sharing practices. She will use her residency to talk with avid seed savers in Maine and work on developing a more personal, lyrical writing style (compared to her last nonfiction book which explored the five times Americans have gone back to the land). Join Kelley and several guests from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, to learn more about her work.

Make sure to check the MFT website mainefarmlandtrust.org and social media platforms facebook.com/mainefarmlandtrust, @mainefarms and @mft_gallery on Instagram to follow the progress of the residents’ work and stay connected with the virtual open studio days.

Fiore Art Center Photo courtesy of Maine Farmland Trust

The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm is a program of Maine Farmland Trust that actively connects the creative worlds of farming, conservation and the arts. The purpose of the art center is to stimulate and advance the dialogue between human and environment. The center hopes to instill passion for preservation through the arts, create awareness and build community — by hosting exhibitions and public educational events, through research and application of ecologically sustainable farming practices and by offering residencies for artists, writers and academics on a historic farm.

Maine Farmland Trust is a member-powered statewide organization that protects farmland, supports farmers, and advances the future of farming.

For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org.

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