Tag Archives: Photography Exhibit

Roots of the Red River Valley Through the lens of Russell Lee

Roots of the Red River Valley
Through the Lens of Russell Lee

January 9 – March 21, 2021
Heritage Hall

Hjemkomst Center
202 1st Avenue North
Moorhead, MN 56560

Roots of the Red River Valley offers an intimate look at one of the region’s economic pillars in this photographic history of Polk County’s 1937 sugar beet harvest. The exhibition includes 84 images from acclaimed photographer Russell Lee, taken primarily near Fisher, Crookston, and East Grand Forks. In Roots of the Red River Valley, Lee’s images are ordered into three distinct categories highlighting the role of the farmer, migrant worker, and factory. The exhibition invites viewers to ponder the lives of rural and migrant laborers, particularly their relationships, families, and homes.

Russell Lee was born in Illinois in 1903. He attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. He left his work in chemical engineering to take up painting, which in turn, led to his keen interest in photography. During the Great Depression, Lee was employed by the federal Farm Security Administration on a photographic documentation project. He joined a team under the direction of economist and photographer Roy Stryker that also included Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein. Lee documented the human stories of segregation, the Great Depression, WWII, internment camps, and much more. His work with the Farm Security Administration brought Lee to the Red River Valley in 1937. Following his work with the FSA he enlisted in the military and served as a photographer with the Air Transport Command. He finished his career as the first instructor of photography at the University of Texas.

Roots of the Red River Valley: Through the Lens of Russell Lee is sponsored by American Crystal Sugar.

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Roots of the Red River Valley: Through the Lens of Russell Lee was produced and designed by UMN Crookston‘s Ken Mendez, Megan Beck Peterson, and Lauren Wallace.

Peonies & Players: A Photography Exhibition Featuring the Work of Kathryn Rynning and Scott DCamp

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce Peonies & Players: A Photography Exhibit featuring the work of Kathryn Rynning and Scott DCamp.

NWMAC Peonies & Players Photography Exhibit

This exhibit allows you to follow Kathi’s life changing trip through the People’s Republic of China in search of peonies and experience athletic moments through Scott.

The exhibit is open from Wednesday, January 13 until February 28 at the NWMAC Gallery at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls. You can also view the exhibit virtually here.

Scott resides in Thief River Falls. His years as an athlete and of professional photography work are evident as he captures the perfect moment in his series of athletes in action. He explains, “Photography goes hand-in-hand with my career as a print journalist and it has been a part of my life for more than 20 years. What began in college as a required class in black and white photography has evolved into a passion. I have an appreciation for all types of photography, but I truly love sports.”

Photography by Scott DCamp

Scott’s photos in this collection were all taken since 2017, when he was promoted to sports editor of the Thief River Falls Times. These photos represent a sampling of his work during his first four years as sports editor.

Photographer Scott DCamp — Walkoff Celebration

“For this show, I chose photos that show emotion and action. 
There are challenges that are unique to each sport such as depth of field and lighting. Much like the athletes competing, I improve as the season moves along and do my best work in the postseason. “

Photographer Kathryn Rynning

Kathryn lives in Kennedy, Minnesota. When asked about how this collection came to be Kathryn explained, “this photo exhibit was the culmination of a lifetime of desires. As a child I admired my grandmother’s peony garden and helped her care for it. I also read many books by Pearl S Buck about China and thought I could go there as a missionary, like my mother’s cousin who served in Nepal. Well, that didn’t quite work out, but….”

About her photography journey, “Of my parents 6 children, I was the one most often wanting to take photos on the family brownie camera, a dinosaur next to my camera of today. I am in retirement with a little more time to go back to those desires of my youth. I have a lovely camera with a micro lens, and printer, so I am in control of the color, size, cropping, etc. of my work. My passion for flowers is satisfied as a volunteer gardener for my church and our community garden and of course my flower gardens at home. Thus, I often grow my photo subjects. I have been very fortunate to travel, and always wondering what is over the next hill, has given me many subjects as well. Thus, a journey to China/Tibet to look for peonies in the wild was a fulfillment of many dreams.”

You won’t want to miss this photography exhibit!

The NWMAC Gallery is located at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls. The gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30-5 PM and at other times when events are held at the college. Enter through Door A. Visitor parking is free and at this time in the large end lot.  

For more information about our exhibits look to our website at www.NWArtsCouncil.org, or if you are an artist interested in exhibiting a body of work with NWMAC, please contact Trey Everett at (218) 280-4917 or email NWArtsCouncil@gmail.com.  This exhibit is made possible with funding from The McKnight Foundation. Please sign up for our e-newsletter on our website home page to see the latest news and grant announcements.  Email director@NWArtsCouncil.org or call 218-745-8886 to reach our office during regular business hours.

Roots of the Red River Valley Photography Exhibit

Stories of 1937 Sugar Beet Harvest through the lens of Photographer Russell Lee at the University of Minnesota Crookston

 Images of history, viewed through the eyes of a photographer, tell the human story. “Roots of the Red River Valley,” a pictorial history of the 1937 sugar beet harvest, will be on display at the University of Minnesota Crookston from Monday November 4 through Saturday, November 9, 2019. A gallery opening will be held on Monday, November 4 at 7 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center. Daily hours for the gallery are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day except Wednesday, November 6 when it will close to the public at 5 p.m.

A special Thursday Commons presentation and panel discussion about the pictorial history will take place on Thursday, November 7 at noon in Kiehle Auditorium. Parking permits are not required. 

More than 80 images by photographer Russell Lee, known for his work with the Farm Security Administration, will be available in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the exhibit. All are welcome to view the historic images without charge and free parking is available in Lot G near the Kiehle Building.

The exhibit evenly distributes the photographs into three distinct categories: the migrant worker, the farmer, and the factory. Images, selected from the Library of Congress, give the viewer an opportunity for greater understanding of the lives of people and the importance of sugar processing in the Red River Valley. The photographs were all taken in Polk County, Minnesota, near Fisher and Crookston, and at the first processing plant built in 1926 and located in East Grand Forks, Minn.

“This exhibit is impressive on several fronts and definitely worth viewing.  First, the photography draws me in as a viewer, to ponder the history of farming and the immigrant worker in our area,” says Mara Hanel, executive director of the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council in Warren, Minn. “Their relationships, their families and homes.  

“The artwork tells a story and promotes dialogue around the images depicted.  Second, the size and clarity of the enlarged photographs is impressive. Third, images depicted have strong compositional elements, which speaks to the trained eye of these artistic photographers,” she continues. “I would encourage a visit either while the images are on display at UMC or talking with UMC staff about bringing this showcase to your own community for display.”   


Russell Lee, born in Illinois, attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania graduating with a degree in chemical engineering. He left his work in chemical engineering to take up painting, which in turn, would lead to his keen interest photography. His life’s work recorded the lives of the people and places around him, documenting the ethnography of America.  

During the Great Depression in the mid-thirties, he was employed by the federally funded Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He joined a team under the direction of economist, government official, and photographer, Roy Stryker that included other notables such as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and others. . 

With his camera, Lee traveled the United States documenting the human story of segregation, the Great Depression, WWII, life in internment camps, and much more. His work with the FSA is what brought Lee to Minnesota’s Red River Valley in 1937.

After settling in the late forties in Texas, Lee would become the first instructor of photography at the University of Texas in 1965.