It is finally Fall, the leaves are turning color, we’re breaking out our warm sweaters and it’s harvest time at farms all across the country. Today we are featuring art picks from Sarah Alexander, a long-time advocate for sustainable farming and current Executive Director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). 20x200’s newest William Wegman edition Farm Days—on sale now with proceeds benefiting MOFGA—is naturally on her list, amid an array of delicious selects.
Ms. Alexander’s years of experience as a champion of sustainability and community are reflected in her selection of prints and how she looks at art in general. From her POV, e bond’s abstractions become soil or waterways. Her attunement to farms and farming uncovers a deeper reading of Dorothea Lange’s humble barn. Activism, advocacy, and community are essential building blocks for Alexander, and her ability to surface those themes in the art she most appreciates is a good reminder that art is indeed for everyone, and can be an important vehicle for deepening our understanding of the world around us.
We are so thrilled to feature Ms. Alexander’s art picks and to be supporting her work and mission at MOFGA via William Wegman's iconic imagery. — Team 20x200
5 Perfect Picks
1) Detail of Barn, Irrigon, Morrow County, Oregon by Dorothea Lange
I really admire Dorthea Lange and her Depression-era work. The clean lines and the stark contrast in the photo of the barn are really beautiful and modern, but there's a deeper story here. The hayloft should be full if this farmer's season was going well. We know that during the great depression, farmers were also dealing with the devastation of the dustbowl. The farm policies that came out of the great depression set the foundation for supporting small and medium sized farmers. Some of those programs have been eroded over the decades, and need to be restored today so we can keep small and medium sized farms producing food.
2) Food–don't waste it, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
This World War I era poster is just as relevant today. Now we live in a time of seeming abundance, but yet so many still face hunger. Nearly 40% of the food in the U.S. goes to waste each year--108 billion pounds. Our health, our communities and our environment could all be improved by following these recommendations.
3) Fairy Ring by Amy Ross
I really loved the whimsy of this piece. We're learning more everyday about fungi and mushrooms and the incredible role they play in our forests and agricultural ecosystems. I love the idea of fungi as little creatures all coming together to make things happen.
4) (re)surfacing by e bond
I thought these organic forms were really striking. The longer you look at the piece, the more you see. The depth here makes me think about what's lurking beneath that's just out of view, like in our soil or our waterways. What is (re)surfacing in our world?
5) Cutting the pies and cakes by Russell Lee
I grew up going to county fairs and this just reminded me of home, and those days. There's so much community in food, and people coming together. Sharing food is a celebration of culture, family, community and so much more.
6) Farm Days by William Wegman
5 Q's + 5 A's
I love the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. I lived in D.C. for a number of years and would try to frequent it, especially to see the folk arts collections, and "The Struggle for Justice" exhibit.
2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
I've always loved the work of Paul Klee. I find it very soothing, and never get tired of viewing the same pieces. There's always something new to discover in his work. I especially love his 1914 piece, Remembrance of a Garden.
3) Favorite Color?
4) You've got $5m you have to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
I don't have any idea what $5m could buy in today's art world, but if I could buy something, I'd love to do a large public art installation, something interactive like The Gates in central park by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Art should be accessible for all, and there's something really magical when art and nature intersect.
5) Do you prefer a single statement piece of a salon wall?
A salon wall. It's too hard to pick just one piece!
6) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?
One of the Guerilla Girls. They were my introduction to feminism in art.
7) You have spent time working in many communities across the country, advocating for sustainable, local and fair food systems. What advice would you have for someone who wants to support this initiative but doesn’t know where to start?
First, support your local farmers whenever you can. There are many farmers in every part of the country who are growing amazing food using organic and regenerative practices that help solve the climate crisis and provide nourishing food for us. Next, vote in every election for folks who support local resilient food systems. There's a lot of work that can be done at the state and local levels to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals, incentivize growing healthy food, and getting food to those who need it most. Last, if you're able, try growing some of your own food. There are lots of resources on how to get started at mofga.org.
The 411 on Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander has nearly 20 years of experience advocating for sustainable, local, and fair food systems. A native of rural Ohio, she attended Northwestern University, where she became interested in fixing our food systems, protecting the environment, and in fighting for the rights of Indigenous people. She worked in just about every aspect of the food system from being a farm apprentice to helping increase community gardens and urban agriculture. She spent three years working with the White Earth Land Recovery project in northern Minnesota, helping to restore traditional food systems and stopping the genetic engineering of wild rice.
She spent nearly 10 years at Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C., where she worked at the national level, and in many states across the country to protect organic standards, fight factory farms, strengthen consumer labeling and fight for genetically engineered food labeling. She moved to Maine in 2015, and just prior to starting as Executive Director she worked as a Senior Strategist at M+R Strategic Services, coaching nonprofits in their membership engagement and digital communications.