Wednesday September 12, 2012

WILLIAMSTOWN -- This summer, Will Raskin used his camera lens, instead of a fork, to capture the morsels that make up this region's food system.

From June through August, Raskin, a Williams College student, captured images at 14 farms in the Berkshires and southern Vermont, and at three restaurants, two local farmers markets and Ginsberg's Foods, a food distributor.

The three-month-long project culminates in the exhibit "Farm/ Food," which will have a gallery showing at the Williams College ‘62 Center for Theater and Dance through Oct. 19 as well as an online exhibit on Flickr.

Raskin, Williams class of ‘15, said he intends to major in English and Environmental Policy and is "especially interested in the way environmental issues are framed and discussed culturally and socially."

Raskin said he wanted to show a different side of food and food production. So, in addition to the images of sweeping Berk shires landscapes, farmers, and crops one might expect there are also shots of soft-serve ice cream in a styrofoam cup, complete with a cherry on top, speckless wine glasses, and tractor trailer trucks.

"Agriculture, more a lifestyle than a mere occupation, shapes our community," he writes in his artist statement posted online. "This display offers a mosaic of places, people, animals, and moments to stimulate discussion and thought about our area's unique and vital food culture."

Brent Wasser, Manager of the Sustainable Food and Agri cul ture Program at Williams Col lege, said he too hopes Raskins' images encourage people to examine the nature and source of the food they eat.

"Cultivating conscientious eat ers is the first step toward broad cultural developments that support a more resilient and equitable food system," said Wasser by email.

The college will hold a free public reception for the photographs on Wednesday in the ‘62 Center, which includes complimentary grilled cheese sandwiches courtesy of Cricket Creek Farm, one of the farms Raskin photographed.

Wasser said he is eager to hear the discussion Raskin's photo exhibition prompts with the community.

"The arts offer great potential for engaging the community with sustainable food questions," he explained.

A temporary gallery allowed a glimpse of Raskin's work-in-progress, but a final version will be posted to Flickr under the "FarmFood" title and include captions and be organized in groups of 20 to 30 images, he said.

"I hope that by displaying the diversity and scope of food just in our community, I could communicate the various complexities that food in general holds," Raskin writes.

Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center for Envi ronmental Initiatives, the college's sustainability office, said each summer the center typically hires five to seven students to study environmental issues from a variety of perspectives that impact both campus and community.

In recent years, items students studied included wind energy viability, campus water consumption, waste and transportation related emissions, and reducing energy use at the campus skating rink.

This summer, students at the Zilkha Center were challenged with creating concepts for green student residences, calculating Real Food, implementing energy projects, improving the gardens, as well as Raskin's food/ farm photo exhibition.

"I learned that it's difficult to fit farmers into one thematic box, as the experiences of farmers varied widely," Raskin said. "I also learned that agriculture and food in general play a larger cultural role in our community than we often imagine."

Carrie Saldo may be reached via her web site www.carriesaldo.com. Wednesday September 12, 2012

What: Reception for ‘Farm/Food' photography show with free grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by Cricket Creek Farm

Where: '62 Center atrium, Route 2, Williamstown

When: Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m.

Admission: Free

Information: www.williams.edu