Waterville Creates’ “The Farm Tools Project,” an exhibition at Ticonic Gallery and the Railroad Square Cinema Lobby, is scheduled to open Monday, April 11. Shown are a rake, shovel, stirrup hoe, and the shadow of a hand — basic tools used to lay out and maintain a healthy row of vegetables. Submitted image

Waterville Creates’ “The Farm Tools Project,” an exhibition at Ticonic Gallery, at 10 Water St., Suite 106, and the Railroad Square Cinema Lobby, at 17 Railroad Square, is scheduled to open Monday, April 11. It will be on view through June 17.

A visual exploration of the use of hand tools on small farms in Maine, this exhibition features cyanotypes, an old form of non-toxic photography that relies upon sunlight and water, according to a news release on the exhibit.

To create these images, artist Michel Droge and archaeologist Sarah Loftus traveled around the state with a portable cyanotype kit and photographed tools with farmers in their fields. Droge and Loftus interviewed farmers regarding their practices, the significance of the tools they use, and how they engage with the earth to produce and harvest food.

“Visiting these small farms and making prints of hand tools gave me a deeper understanding of the vastly collaborative and interconnectedness of farmers, the land, and our communities,” said Droge. “I saw the creative process of farming through these hand tools, often passed down through generations, and the love, magic, and perseverance that farmers call up as they tend the land and nourish our communities.”

The tools depicted pose questions around innovation, as well as the resilience and resurgence of small farms in Maine.

“We wanted to play with the way we view everyday tools and how they actively shape the ways we perceive and interact with the world,” said Loftus. “Tools are quiet, but far from silent partners. They reveal something of our collective capacity for invention and ingenuity, as well as our enormous power for devastation and destruction.”

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Farmers across the state are facing loss of livelihood and significant health impacts because of contamination from PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals.” In recognition of the growing threat of PFAS to Maine’s farms, 100% of the art sale proceeds will be donated to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine Farmland Trust’s PFAS Emergency Relief Fund. Jointly administered by the association and trust, the PFAS Emergency Relief Fund provides short-term income replacement for farms that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry has identified as having high PFAS contamination test results; helps pay for initial PFAS testing on farms that choose to do their own testing; and supports access to mental health services for impacted farmers.

“The Farm Tools Project” is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission and by the Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regranting Program. Additional exhibition support provided by Kennebec Savings Bank and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Participating farms included Black Kettle Farm, Lyman; Burke Hill Farm, Cherryfield; College of the Atlantic’s Peggy Rockefeller Farm, Mount Desert Island; Four Season Farm, Harborside; Frith Farm, Scarborough; Girard Farm, Lyman; Hurricane Valley Farm, West Falmouth; Ironwood Farm, Albion; and Villageside Farm, Freedom.

A reception will be held with the artists from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Ticonic Gallery. This event is free and open to the public.

Gallery admission is free. Ticonic Gallery is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the Railroad Square Cinema lobby is open to the public from 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

For more information, contact Mary Ellms at [email protected] or 207-509-3365.

Planet Jr. Seeder and seed plates at Villageside Farm are shown here. Villageside’s circa 1960s Planet Jr. push seeder has been on loan almost 12 years and is used to seed the fields. The round discs are seed plates that are changed out for different seed sizes and drop rates. Submitted image

 

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