There’s an exciting new place to explore sustainability visually in PA. Husband and wife photography team, Florence and Anthony Rodale have opened a groundbreaking photo gallery in Emmaus, PA, focusing on promotion of sustainability through photography. The first exhibit, open now, is the fascinating collection of work dubbed the Lexicon of Sustainability by Douglas Gayeton.
Communicating vital ideas is best undertaken when we speak the same language. Sometimes the deepest divide between the words we speak and the words that touch our hearts are rooted in disparate– or culturally unexplored- language. We often need an Indiana Jones, of sorts, to lead us to treasure that can verbally unite us. Douglas Gayeton, filmmaker and photographer, with his wife, Laura Howard-Gayeton, are clearly wrangling folks to a better understanding of an emerging vernacular through the project “The Lexicon of Sustainability.”
You can experience this work at the newly opened FloreAnt Projects gallery in Emmaus, PA, between now and December 17th.
Important concepts can be concealed by words that we don’t get. I’ve experienced this. Years ago, during a Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference, I encountered the term ‘food security’ for the first time. My initial thoughts were of the obscene fast food culture, obesity, and all the cheap processed ‘food’ lining grocery shelves, and while I’d long hoped for more quality food, I immediately doubted that there was impending food scarcity, since I misunderstood the term. The pied piper that led me to a better understanding of food security that day – was the amazing Raj Patel.
To help folks grasp this new language of sustainability in a visual and engagingly comfortable way, Douglas Gayeton combines photography and welcoming hand written script to explain these evolving concepts. In one of his photographs, Gayeton quotes Erika Allen, daughter of Growing Power founder, Will Allen, to define food security.
“Food Security: having consistent year round access to safe, local, affordable, and culturally appropriate food that is grown, raised, produced and moved about in manners that are responsible to the environment while reflecting a consumption of natural resources that is equitable with a view to our offspring seven generations from now.” – Erica Allen.
Gayeton’s combo of photography and written word break down walls of misunderstanding effectively. If you’ve followed me for more than a second and a half as a writer, you know that I prefer addressing important things with a soft mix of warmth and humor. I am not a heavy hammer, serious girl. I want to win hearts through fun. Combined with my 15 year career as a photojournalist – during which I took a photo or two that touched a person or two – one might imagine that an artist who uses welcoming words with photos that showcase the beauty of the best food environmentalists of our time – might win my heart. So yes, you guessed it, I love Gayeton’s images.
I recently saw Doug’s work at the Slow Money conference in San Francisco. Day by day, I’m feeling my heart drug deeper and deeper into the fight for food security. Gayeton’s images were a highlight of the conference for me.
As I entered the hall, my eyes were lured to the left by poster after poster sized beautiful photographic collages honoring many current food security pioneers. Resplendent Alice Waters, rock star Joel Salatin, and urban food guru Will Allen greeted all to the event. The photographs offered a hello as well as a doorway to better understanding of the current environmental food culture.
What are the photos like? Gayeton’s images uphold the subjects in a majestic way while giving a hint of what their personal environments are like. They are large, subtle montages that illuminate the intimately important aspects of the people and the land they farm on. Showing my age, I thought of David Hockney’s montages, Duane Michals use of text and most currently, Frank Ockenfel’s writing -without the nudes. Importantly, He is achieving his goal; spreading the words of sustainability.
Gayeton’s images will launch the FloreAnt Project. But look to the gallery to provide on going inspiration. Photos that celebrate the earth and our understanding of it will grace their walls. In the moment, they hope to take Gayeton’s photos to PASA’s conference in February and are looking forward to sharing his images with schools in the area that are scheduled visit. FloreAnt will announce a photo contest in January, for amateur, emerging and professional with a theme picked from the arena of sustainability. They will post info on their site in the near future.
Get to the gallery to see Gayeton’s work. Consider timing it with a tour of the historic Rodale Farms. Let me know if you go… I might meet you there!