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Portrait of the American Farmer

by Lori Dunn | December 23, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
A portrait of a bee keeper is one of the many portraits that make up the "American Farmer" exhibit on display at the Texarkana Regional Arts Center. The exhibit will be on display through Jan.7

TEXARKANA, Texas --An exhibition of portraits of American farmers at Texarkana's Regional Arts Center highlight just how diverse the farming industry is.

One portrait of a farmer from Maine shows his hands holding blueberries from his crop.

Another is of a woman who became a bee keeper when she married into the family business, according to a description of the portrait.

"They are all farmers. And it really changes some people's perception of what farming is," said Chris Wicker, visual arts coordinator for the Texarkana Regional Art and Humanities Council.

Titled "American Farmer," the exhibition by photographer Paul Mobley brings together 45 of more than 200 portraits he took while crisscrossing the country, and photographing farmers.

The farmers featured in the portraits raise everything from cattle to corn and beyond.

"He went from Maine to Texas, to Alaska and all over the country," Wicker said.

The resulting images show the farmers in places they are comfortable, locations they know like the backs of their hands. Many are photographed with the animals they raise or the crops they harvest.

The crops range from the blueberries and bees to alligators raised in Florida and sheep raised in Montana.

The photos are accompanied by anecdotes and memories in the farmers' own words.

"It's been a rough life. But it's been a sweet life," said Florida farmer Walter Jackson.

Wicker said he feels like he knows many of the farmers just from looking at their portraits.

A couple of the portraits feature husband and wife farmers. While others feature farmers with the next generation of family farmer.

Mobley's first book, "American Farmer: Portraits from the Heartland," was first published in the fall of 2008 by Welcome Books and received the 2009 Western Heritage Award for Best Photography Book from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

The exhibition was curated and organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small and mid-sized communities every year.

("American Farmer" runs through Jan. 7 at the Regional Arts Center, 321 W. Fourth St. Admission is free. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call TRAHC at 903-792-8681 or visit trahc. org.)

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