Date of Submission
Project Advisor 1
I have spent my time at Bard working to develop what I once assumed were two entirely disconnected aspects of myself. I viewed my two majors, Biology and Photography, as polar opposites. That is, until my scientific concerns expanded to the realms of environmentalism and agriculture. Following my first visit to Grazin’ farm-to-table restaurant, my interest in sustainable farm practices quickly evolved into passionate participation. In fact, my excitement landed me a job as a server at Grazin’. I was thus allowed the perfect opportunity to channel my enthusiasm productively in support of these farms.
As a photographer, I was anxious to relate to this newfound interest in a visual manner. However, I soon discovered that the idyllic pastoral landscapes from which I assumed my food originated were not necessarily derived from first-hand experience. The realization of my own ignorance put this image into question and ignited a new motivation to see the truth for myself. I began to wonder: are these farms as beautiful and poetic as I imagine?
This question and my inherent environmental curiosity prompted me to visit non-conventional farms throughout the eastern U.S. I was on a mission to satisfy my hunger for visual evidence. Most importantly, I hoped to confirm the veracity of the images I associate with labels such as “organic,” “biodynamic,” and of course, “free-range.”
The title Free Range refers not only to the food produced on these farms, but also to the candid nature of my encounters with farmers. A ubiquitous aura of pride characterized the farmers whose land and animals I photographed. The farmers seemed grateful for the chance to share with me the source of their pride and livelihood, and I took advantage of this opportunity to roam the grounds freely with my camera. This freedom led me to appreciate the sights the way I imagine the playful livestock and hardworking farmers do themselves.
These scenes are ever-changing as the farms’ products are grown and harvested. However, the photographic medium has allowed me to preserve moments of my exploration visually. I hope you will take advantage of your own free range while experiencing these photographs.
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Dunn, Stephanie Nicole, "Free Range" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 293.