Multimedia for multicultural change
Mike Hazard is photographing the creation of a new farm. He is making multimedia to make multicultural change. The art will create a book, a video, and a traveling exhibition.
HAFA Farm has been established by the Hmong American Farmers Association.
The farm is changing from a corn and soy beans monoculture to a mixed vegetable and flowers agriculture.
The farm is a member-based nonprofit organization. Eighteen members have plots at the farm. The farm is changing the way small family farmers can work together to earn a sustainable living.
Pictures are being made of all the farmers and their families in all weathers, and all four seasons, from predawn to moonlight. As a series, the pictures embody the farmers’ love for the earth, the struggle of family farming, and the bounty of abundance.
Like the farm, this project is about planting seeds for change: new ways of growing good food, new ways of cooperating together, and new ways of doing sustainable business.
The Center’s project CORNUCOPIA (2012) is both a beginning of and the model for SEEDS OF CHANGE. For CORNUCOPIA, the artist photographed the growers in the Saint Paul Farmers Market. Then, with a grant from Springboard for the Arts, a collection of the pictures was displayed in the market itself. It was a wow.
This is a story about CORNUCOPIA by the arts reporter Susannah Schouweiller. The article includes a video about that project. Http://www.knightarts.org/community/stpaul/a-cornucopia-of-photos-and-poems-by-multimedia-artist-mike-hazard
The HAFA Farm is a 155 acre research and incubator farm located in Vermillion Township, just 15 minutes south of Saint Paul, Minnesota. HAFA sub-leases the land to small, family farmers and maintains multiple demonstration plots to teach Hmong farmers how to be better farmers, business operators, and stewards of the environment. Learn more here. http://www.hmongfarmers.com/
The camera work of the artist Mike Hazard is critically acclaimed. As artist in residence at The Center for International Education, Hazard has created a stimulating array of projects that range from seven videos nationally telecast on PBS to exhibitions of still photographs in museums, galleries, and unusual public spaces all over the country. To learn more about the artist and The Center, visit our website. http://www.thecie.org/
When the artist scouted the farm and surrounding countryside to determine this project’s potential, the first person he met was Ken Kasel, the grandson of the farmers who had first plowed the soil that is HAFA Farm. Ken is concerned about the new farm and its uncertain shape. He related an experience when two young Hmong women crossed through his corn field (which is adjacent to the new HAFA Farm), “trampling” his plants. “They apologized--‘Sorry, sorry’--but they just kept going. I don’t want to have to build a fence.”
Ken’s point of view is emblematic of the conflicts and struggles between new and old ways of doing things, old immigrants and newer immigrants.
Already, things are starting to change. In the slide show you can see the entire Kasel clan attended the first annual HAFA Farm open house.
The art of our photographs and their stories will be one way to share the experience of the farm’s creation with the community at large. We aim to build bridges of understanding with art.
We are planting seeds of change.
Working with a collaborative team and the Hmong American Farmers Association, the project will culminate with a traveling exhibition and a book.
The exhibition Seeds of Change was shown at the Minnesota Museum of American Art during the summer of 2016. It will now travel. Its next venue is the new galleries at the Minnesota State Capitol, opening in January, 2017.
The book will combine oral histories of the farmers with pictures by the artist.
Sharing the pictures and their stories through multiple social media and exhibitions will build bridges between the new farmers and the old, the farmers and the public.
The work is a three year project that is now in year three.
Your support will grow SEEDS OF CHANGE.