the workers – boston, ma

posted December 9, 2010


A note from farmer & artist, Louisa Conrad: You are invited to join the artist on Thursday December 9th from 6-8 for a tasting of handmade cheese, meats, and farm products. There is going to be a tasting of cheese (from Peaked Mountain Farm, Twig Farm in Cornwall, Blue Ledge Farm & Jasper Hill as well as the debut of our line of goat milk caramels from our one milker, Orion.

Louisa Conrad Nov-Jan 2011
Opening: December 9, 6-8 pm

450 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

The Workers (2010)
by Lucas Farrell

The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible. -Allan Kaprow

Louisa Conrad’s second show at Anthony Greaney-a collection of drawings, photographs and videos entitled The Workers-provides a detailed look-at once meditative, metaphorical, and gestural-at the art of everyday farming; and, moreover, at the everyday farming of art. Having spent the past year working on goat and sheep dairies in Vermont*, Conrad and her husband are in the process of forming their own operation: Big Picture Farm. By incorporating art “chores” into a daily farm work schedule (to the extent that portraiture, video, and sketching become tasks as necessary to the success of the farm as milking and feeding), Conrad attempts to blur the line between her farm work and studio practice.

Borne out of this experimental synthesis of artistic and farming practices, The Workers forces a consideration of small-scale agriculture, alternative marketing, animal husbandry, and the ever expanding art of the artisanal-while at the same time challenging the role of the artist (as well as the place and function of art) in contemporary society.

Each of the composite drawings have been executed in 8-hour time intervals, and explore both the genealogy of each individual animal (resulting in a kind of palimpsest of inherited traits) as well as the individual’s relationship to the herd at large. As the subjects increase (from 10 to 20 to 40), the time allotted per animal decreases, and the “face” of the farm transmogrifies accordingly. In contrast to the drawings-which concede each worker’s Sisyphean utility-the portraits emphasize individuality, highlight personality, and provide a romanticized sense of each goat at play. The looping video-entitled Field Sonnets-allows a glimpse into daily life on the farm; a cycle of poetic moments, both extraordinary and banal.

Conrad’s work is a reminder that, despite the lagging economy, there remains a growing sophistication of- and steady demand for-artisanal food in America. Eating (or, more specifically, choosing what one eats) has become a form of art in its own right. The scale of production, the quality and provenance of ingredients, the welfare of the animals-all factor significantly into the experience of taste.

* The artist wishes to acknowledge and thank Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt of Blue Ledge Farm (Salisbury, VT), and Ann and Bob Works of Peaked Mountain Farm (Townshend, VT) for allowing her to feature their animals as part of this exhibit as well as being excellent teachers as they pass along their farm knowledge.

More info here.