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Voices of American Farm Women

March 2 - 10, 2007
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center - South Lobby (open daily)

March 21 - June 23, 2007
MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education, http://www.msu.edu/~pavilion/

Mt. Hope Avenue and Farm Lane (open Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; and weekends, when special events are scheduled, Saturday, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sunday, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.)

Image of The Judice Family Farm, Brandie and Collin Judice, Franklin, Louisiana.In the past, our views of farming and its influence on American life and culture have focused on the roles that men have played as farmers, while women's contributions to agricultural production were largely ignored, perpetuating the stereotype of the "farmer's wife." Now, a new exhibit at Michigan State University, "Voices of American Farm Women," presents a contemporary perspective on women farmers.

Thirty striking black-and-white photographs explore a diverse group of women and their relationship to the land. Photographer Cynthia Vagnetti has documented women farmers from across the United States whose alternative farming techniques promote environmental responsibility, economic stability, and community well-being. Women from 15 states -- including Michigan -- are represented in the exhibit.

"Through exhibits like this, we can engage the public in a deeper understanding of issues like food and farming connections, entrepreneurs, social responsibility, biodiversity and our relationship to the land," observes Julie Avery, MSU Museum curator of rural life and culture.

"Voices of American Farm Women" is the first in a multi-year series of special agriculture and natural resources-related MSU Museum exhibits that will be designed for off-site locations. "Voices " will be presented at the MSU Pavilion, which hosts thousands of visitors for special events throughout the year. Project partners include the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Michigan Agriculture Experiment Station, MSU Extension, Michigan State University Museum, and University Outreach and Engagement.

A related publication, "People Sustaining the Land: A Vision of Good Science and Art," by Cynthia Vagnetti, is available at the MSU Museum Store. Vagnetti is now an MSU Ph.D. student in Writing, Rhetoric and Composition and teaches "Public Life in America".

The MSU Museum is Michigan's natural history and culture museum and the state's first Smithsonian Institution affiliate. Interdisciplinary research, programs and activities are in partnership with the College of Arts & Letters, College of Natural Science, College of Social Science, MSU Extension and University Outreach and Engagement. Additional support comes from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to enrich cultural activity in Michigan. The MSU Museum, founded in 1857, celebrates 150 years in 2007 and is one of the oldest museums in the Midwest.

"Voices of American Farm Women" is curated by Janet Dykema, director of public programs at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, Wis. The exhibition is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, Kansas City, Mo., to create access to an array of arts and humanities exhibitions, nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1972.

Also of Interest: Special Programs
Friday, March 2
12 noon
252 Erickson Hall
"Voices from the Field: Photography and Video as a Tool for Inquiry"
Presentation by Cynthia Vagnetti.
A WRC-Good Practice Brown Bag program.

Friday, March 2
2:30 - 3:30 p.m., Kellogg Center, South Lobby
Meet the Artist
Meet Cynthia Vagnetti, tour the exhibit, and learn of her multi-decade project interviewing American farmers. Vagnetti's work has resulted in television documentaries, publications, and exhibits.

Saturday, March 3
Kellogg Center
"Voices From the Field"
Video documentary by Cynthia Vagnetti about Upper Midwest Farm Women creating economically viable local food systems will screen during the Michigan Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA) conference. Screening is open to the public. For more information: (517) 353-3890

Wednesday, June 20 & Thursday, June 21
4-H Exploration Days Workshop:
Oral History Interviewing
Presented by Cynthia Vagnetti
For more information: (517) 353-5526

March - June Wednesday evenings
Special Programs & Speaker Series
Presented by the women of Sigma Alpha: achievement in scholarship, leadership, and service and to further the development of excellence in women pursuing careers in agriculture and natural resources. For more information: http://www.msusigmaalpha.com

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Image courtesy

The Judice Family Farm, Brandie and Collin Judice, Franklin, Louisiana.
Photo by Cynthia Vagnetti, 1999, Gelatin Silver Print, 8x10", courtesy of Cynthia Vagentti, from the exhibition Voices of American Farm Women, toured by Exhibits USA, a National Division of Mid-American Arts Alliance. Image courtesy ExhibitsUSA.