The artistic study, entitled “Rural Women: Voice and Spirit,” showcases the various and integral roles rural women have played in agricultural production.
Although historically undervalued, unrecognized and underserved, the perspective and history of rural women is essential to understanding the changing landscape of farming family life.
A collection of paintings, corresponding literary selections will provide exhibition goers with a comprehensive and integrated view of various, and at times conflicting cultures of farming, agricultural ecology and land stewardship issues, and evolving farming family roles and relationships, all from the unique and rarely heard perspective of rural women.
The subject matter of this project reaches all members of our communities (rural and urban alike), as reflected in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the landscape in which we live. The artistic content of the exhibit will provide the inspiration and opportunity for audiences to better understand and empathize with rural women and their families as they navigate the swiftly changing tides of global agricultural trends, perceptions of optimal and appropriate land use, and rural lifestyle expectations and standards. It is hoped that the voice and spirit of these rural women, as artistically depicted and displayed in the traveling exhibition, will provide a bridge of greater understanding between Wisconsin’s rural and urban communities, and increase general awareness statewide of some of the most dynamic and complex challenges facing today’s farmers and farming families.
“Family farmers live a committed life.
Committed, in their way of living in this world.
This way of living, seems quite contrary to what our world would consider
successful or important.
Family farmers understand that they have been given
a vocation in this world to do what is best for the land.
People who farm understand that they must have a sense of
patience and gentleness about the rhythms of the land.
Family farmers are committed to sustaining rural life.
The rigidity of the corporate world, mechanizing everything
is not right for the land. The rhythm, patience and gentleness
does not exist.
We are all in this together.
Together we can hold onto the land, keeping it graced.”
Miriam Brown, OP
Sustaining Heart in the Heartland: Exploring Rural Spirituality.
Vision must have severity
at its edge:
bushes grown over the pastures,
vines riding down
the fences, the cistern broken;
against the false vision
of the farm dismembered,
sold in pieces on the condition
of the buyer’s ignorance,
a disorderly town
of “ houses in the country”
inhabited by strangers;
Excerpts from The Clearing
I’ve Lost my Melody
Since childhood I have been aware of a kind of melody which was my own.
Not in the background of my life-but in my life. It seemed to be the form and texture if everything I did, everything I would become, everything I longed for, everything I loved. I sensed it constantly. The melody of me swirled through every day and even in my dreams. I do not sense the melody as strongly now.
The great cords are here but the melody is gone. Where is it? How can I get it to return? Where did I loose it? How did it happen? Does it matter when or how it left? I think not, only that it is not with me anymore.
Perhaps it was a prelude waiting to become a song, full and true, composed of all notes previously struck. Where can I find my new refrain?
Is there a new tempo-unexpected, wild and free, waiting to be heard?
Must I purposefully search or will it find me? I only know that I long for those sustaining notes to bare me up, to join me with the wider world.
Retired farmer activist poet
More artwork at www.kellyparkssnider.com see exhibitions