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.
Traveling Art Exhibit Visits Red Lake Falls Public Library
Northwest Minnesota Arts Council sponsors an annual Traveling Art Exhibit, which visits northwest Minnesota communities throughout the year. The exhibit includes 10 original pieces of art by regional artists, chosen from works submitted for our annual juried exhibit. The exhibit is currently at the Red Lake Falls Public Library until January 4. See below for the schedule for the year.
The 2019-2020 Traveling Exhibit Schedule*:
May 10–June 28, 2019 Godel Memorial Library, Warren
June 29–August 31, 2019 East Grand Forks Campbell Library
September 1–Nov 2, 2019 Ada Public Library
Nov 3–Jan 4, 2020 Red Lake Falls Public Library**
Jan 5– March 1, 2020 Roseau Public Library
March 2–May 2, 2020 Hallock Public Library
*The start and end dates at each location are approximate, depending on weather, venue hours and other circumstances that may occur to prohibit travel. For specific library hours, please contact each location before planning your visit, especially if you are planning on bringing a group.
The 2019-2020 Artists and Artwork:
Mary Magnuson, Red Lake Falls, “Twilight in the Taiga” (Painting)
Amber Lee, Hendrum, “Koi” (Watercolor)
Peggy Branden, Karlstad, “The Beast” (Wood Block Print)
Kathryn Rynning, Kennedy, “The Graduates” (Photograph)
James Blix, Thief River Falls, “Woodland Composition I” (Photograph)
Bert Foster, Thief River Falls, “At the Barn” (Photograph)
Christine Foster, Thief River Falls, “Ice House Morning” (Painting)
May 4 from 10 am -1 pm at Sweetlight Gallery in Crookston
This is a beginners photography class about the basics of using a digital SLR or mirrorless camera. The cost is Adults $40, $20 for Students 7th grade through college. No children please.
Additional topics introduced: Lenses, Shutter speeds, f-stops, ISO, basic composition, Auto features vs “semi-auto”, camera care and more.
May 11 from 9am -12pm at Sweetlight Gallery in Crookston
If you took the Intro to Photography class and are ready to take the next step, then this class is for you. However, it is also open to anyone provided you have a basic understanding of the use of your camera. Andy will build on the concepts from the Intro Class and also review and expand on shutter speed, aperture, ISO, the exposure triangle and more composition ideas. This class is limited to 10 students. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for Students 7th grade through college.
Andy Hall, owner of Sweetlight Gallery, will open co-exhibition The Fournet Experience Andy will be displaying still photographs that he created while exploring the interior of Crookston’s historic, architectural gem. The still images will be set amongst architectural salvage pieces from the Fournet Building. Sarah Wagner will be joining Andy with her 360° Virtual Reality panoramas that give you a sense of being inside the building. The Fournet building was built in 1885 from the designs of Grand Forks architect, J.W. Ross. Over the years, the building has been both residential and commercial. Tenants have included a law firm, a grocery store, a dental office, a hardware store, a liquor store and in 1907 the Fournet building opened the first furniture store in NW Minnesota. Andy and Sarah were fortunate to have captured a small sampling of the beauty of this historical building and are excited to bring it to you. The Fournet Experience opens Tuesday, April 2nd 5-9PM and continues through May 25th during regular business hours.
Sweetlight Gallery 119 N Main St. Crookston, MN 56716 Refreshments and light appetizers will be provided.
Due to safety concerns, this event is not appropriate for small children/toddlers/babies.