UMF Emery Community Arts Center features “Farm Tools Project” – a visual exploration of hand tools on Maine farms

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FARMINGTON, ME  (August 24, 2020)—As the University of Maine at Farmington’s Emery Community Arts Center Flex Space Gallery reopens to the public, it is fitting that its first exhibit will be close to the heart of rural Maine life.

UMF Emery Community Arts Center features The “Farm Tools Project,” a visual exploration of the use of hand tools on small farms by Michel Droge and Sarah Loftus.
UMF Emery Community Arts Center features The “Farm Tools Project,” a visually stunning exhibit of cyanotype images created with sunlight and water by Michel Droge and Sarah Loftus.


The “Farm Tools Project,” a visual exploration of the use of hand tools on small farms by Michel Droge and Sarah Loftus, will be on display in the Emery Flex Space Gallery and on the Emery website from Aug. 31 – Oct. 1, 2020.

In compliance with UMF’s policies regarding the health and safety of our campus and the Farmington community, Emery Community Arts Center’s Flex Space Gallery is open to the public by appointment only. Please contact Ann Bartges, ann.bartges@maine.edu, to make arrangements for your visit. All visitors are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Emery’s Performance Space will remain closed to the public until further notice.

Over the last year artist Michel Droge and archaeologist Sarah Loftus traveled around the state with a portable cyanotype kit,  a 19th century form of non-toxic photography, creating images of tools with people in their fields, barns and greenhouses. They talked with farmers about their practices, the significance of the tools they choose to use, and how they engage with the earth to produce and harvest food.

Michel Droge Artist Michel Droge


As an archaeologist, Sarah has been researching American farming and the material culture of daily life for many years. Michel is a research based artist with a socially engaged practice that addresses the environment and climate change. They decided to collaborate to look at the material choices people make on small farms, the labor of it, and the objects they pick up each day to grow food and maintain sustainable relationships with the land.

Aarchaeologist Sarah LoftusArchaeologist Sarah Loftus


Tools are embedded with their own histories and stories, extensions of ourselves and partners in our complicated relationships with the world. They have their own animus, but also speak to humanity’s collective capacity for invention and ingenuity.

As with farming, cyanotypes are produced with sunlight and water and the ghostly beauty speaks to generational relationships with the land and the enduring resilience of small farms facing a suite of environmental, social and industrial challenges.

The exhibition is moving around the state and was at Maine Farmland Trust’s Gallery this winter.  Fifty percent of artwork sales proceeds will go to Real Farmer Care, which raises funds for self-care for farmers who need it, @realfarmercare. The remaining 50 percent will go towards publication of a book for the project.

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

PARTICIPATING FARMS:

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
Villageside Farm, Freedom

More information on the artists:

Michel Droge is a painter, printmaker and educator whose work engages with the environment and the human condition in an era of uncertainty.  Their public engagement projects involve field research and collaboration with conservation and environmental groups such as Maine Audubon Society and the Island Institute. They are a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Award and three Maine Arts Commission Grants. Their recent exhibitions include the Maine Audubon Society, University of Maine Machias, Bates College Art Museum, and The Cue Art Foundation in NYC. Michel has a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Maine College of Art.

Sarah Loftus is an archaeologist at Northeast Archaeology Research Center in Farmington, Maine with a focus on the 19th and 20th century history of the United States and people’s relationships with the environment through material culture, labor and technology. She moved to Maine from Texas and spent two years working on vegetable and dairy farms as part of an ongoing interest in American farming. Sarah has an MA in Archaeology from University College London and a PhD in Anthropology from Syracuse University.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

Link to image on WordPress: https://www.umf.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2020/08/RP190-002A.jpg
Photo Caption: UMF Emery Community Arts Center features The “Farm Tools Project,” a visual exploration of the use of hand tools on small farms by Michel Droge and Sarah Loftus.
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

Link to image on WordPress: https://www.umf.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2020/08/RP190-002B.jpg
Photo Caption: Artist Michel Droge
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

Link to image on WordPress: https://www.umf.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2020/08/RP190-002C.jpg
Photo Caption: Archaeologist Sarah Loftus
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064
april.mulherin@maine.edu

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