Judy Brown and Meg Birnbaum
April 10 – June 18, 2018
Reception May 4, 2018 at 6 PM.
By request for this exhibition photographer and Photography Atelier educator, Meg Birnbaum has assembled a collection of work from Judy Brown’s Far from the Madding Crowd and her own photographs from Losing the Farm.
Far from the Madding Crowd Artist Statement
As a child growing up in a small town in Texas I dreamed of living on a farm surrounded by animals. In suburban Massachusetts a couple of years ago, I discovered that my fantasy farm exists just up the street. While visiting the farm I formed attachments and developed trust with the animals; I made images in a style I developed over the last decade. Concentrating on fine details, I find beauty in dirty faces and dripping saliva.
My images focus closely on portraits of individual animals. I capture their personalities and humanlike qualities – their questions, their curiosity, their wish for affection, and their offer of friendship along with their ever powerful appetites. Ideally I hope my images might help lead to more humane treatment for farm animals such as advocated by Temple Grandin and others. I hope my photographs lead people to view the animals with respect, as sentient beings similar to our pets and worthy of protections and humane treatment.
Judy Brown Biography
Following a career as Professor of Physics at Wellesley College and Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab, Judy Brown has combined her long-time passions for animals and photography. She is particularly interested in form, texture, and lighting in images and is attracted to subjects for their simplicity and beauty of form. Her “Elliott” portfolio of a spirited pony in his stall has been given a number of solo shows including two in Griffin Museum satellite galleries and an MIT Architecture Department Tele-exhibit. Selections from her “Antique Skin” and “Elliott” portfolios as well as other images have been selected for over a dozen juried exhibitions including Asbury University, Wilmore, KY “The Horse: A Juried Exhibit”, Texas Photographic Society Members Only Show , and SE Center for Photography “The Contemporary Nude”. Most recently she has spent much of her time photographing the animals on a farm in South Natick, MA consummating a childhood passion for farms and animals while growing up in rural Texas.
In the last decade Brown has taken several courses at Rhode Island School of Design and New England School of Photography. She has also taken studio art courses in drawing and design at Wellesley College. Workshops include Equine Photography in Southern France with Tony Stromberg, Maine Media’s “A Certain Alchemy” with Keith Carter, and Atelier 26 with Meg Birnbaum at the Griffin Museum of Photography.
Losing the Farm Artist Statement
On a spring day in 2015, I entered a call for entry from a local arts organization seeking to match 10 artists with ten farms. The hope was to build community and educate the public about the local raising and growing of food.
The 10 artists, of all mediums, were tasked with telling the story of a year in the life of a small Massachusetts farm. I was matched with ‘Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds,’ a pig, chicken, and turkey farm.
I learned, among many new things, that unless a person inherits a preexisting family farm it is common practice to lease land from a larger farm that is not able to use all of what they own. That is what Pete and Jen did. Sadly, shortly after I started my project they were told that their time was up. The mood and tone of the farm changed to a heaviness that matched the crushing heat.
I followed the farm through moving day, watching the farm deconstruct day by day. The animals went to market, the greenhouses came down, the fruit trees dug up. The farm was lost.
Since, Pete and Jen are still farming but in a completely different venue. They are stewards for a community farm owned by the town of Lincoln MA. Jen is the Director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a beginning farmer training program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Meg Birnbaum Biography
Meg Birnbaum lives and works in the Boston area. She is a graphic designer, educator and photographer. She has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Tanto Tempo in Kobe, Japan, Corden Potts Gallery, San Francisco, The Lishui International Photography Festival, China, the Museum of Art Pompeo Boggio, Buenos Aires, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Massachusetts, Flash Forward Festival, Boston and others.
Meg teaches portfolio building classes (called the Photography Atelier) at the Griffin Museum of Photography where she also designs catalogs, signage, their website and is a member of their exhibition committee. Her work is held in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, the Lishui Museum of Photography in China, the Meditech Corporation, and private collections.