Reviving Local Structures and Farming Initiatives:
A Structural Analysis in Paint
Evan Farley Class of 2011
My project is inspired by the conservation of structures and land, a continuation of a previous preservation design project of a Bath 19th century freight shed. Preserving the integrity of the structure, the Bath freight shed designs entail a multiuse flexible space/site that focuses on a year-round farmer’s market. While innovative design and sustainability are brought to light through the preservation of such buildings, the loss of significant communal history is no longer an issue. Following the presentation of the freight shed project, I wished to explore the project further, transitioning from my passion in architecture and design to my excitement for the painting medium. Having a farmer’s market pivotal to my designs of the freight shed, I wanted to take a closer look into the participating farms of the existing local farmers markets. My non-conventional study in painting allowed me to analyze farmlands and structures that contribute to the farms’ production. Furthermore, like the freight shed design project, my pursuit in painting acted as a preservation of the integrity and character of each farm.
At the beginning of the summer I spent my time traveling to different farms creating plein air (on site) watercolor sketches. I limited each watercolor production to an hour and focused on color, value, and form representation. Limiting myself to an hour per painting I was forced to quickly portray what I observed. Moreover, my lack of previous experience working plein air was challenging for me in terms of accurately representing what I was viewing. Traveling to different farms I had the opportunity to talk to each farmer, learning about farming processes, structures, and innovative means of production. It was a great exercise in jumpstarting the project, giving me practice in different forms of painting and helping me delve into the painting process.
After multiple visits and interactions with these farmers, I decided to focus my project on two farms; Crystal Springs farm in Brunswick, ME and Sparrow Farm in Pitston, ME. I am intrigued by the history of the structures at Crystal Springs. From acquiring and reusing a WWII Quonset hut, to building newer structures out of cement as a result of a barn house fire many years past, the structures and their significance are incredibly memorable. I am very impressed with Sparrow Farm’s innovative and sustainable means of production throughout their property and within their structures. Sparrow farm impressively attained Maine’s first solar thermal greenhouses, generate organic produce, and have an eclectic building style.
As the summer progressed I transitioned from watercolor snapshots to structure-specific oil paintings. As painting in different media was beneficial to my learning process, painting at different scales was very helpful for my painting process and techniques as I worked as small as 4”x4” to as large as 5’x6’. My subject matter transitioned from specific structures to abstracts of material details. Shifting my greater project ideas from a macro subject matter of the farm as a whole to the micro qualities of material, I felt as if it allowed me to understand the land and structures of the farms in a more thorough manner. Not only did this summer experience allow me to further explore an interest in preservation and the lifestyle of farming communities, it also allowed me to develop my style and skill as an artist, painter, and designer.
A special thanks to Wiebke Theodore and Rusak Fellowship
Student: Evan Farley 2011
Professor: Wiebke Theodore
Having been deeply involved in the visual arts program at Bowdoin College, I have come to make academic course choices and career-related summer and semester decisions that reflect my passion for drawing, painting, and architecture. At Bowdoin I have taken some very influential courses in Painting, Public Art, Architecture, and am currently enrolled in Portraiture related to identity of the individual, and an independent study involving the preservation of a 19th century freight shed. Just this past summer, I was accepted into the Career Discovery Architecture Program at Harvard University, which consisted of a vigorous 6-week architecture and design curriculum. This program allowed me to explore the design process and receive critical feedback about my work. Directly following this experience I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, under the Danish Institute for Study Abroad where I was enrolled in a program focusing on architecture and structural design. Studying in this historical city introduced me to a whole new level of architecture first hand.
Maine has a significant heritage of traditional industries along its many hundreds of miles of coastline. Though the state has a postcard reputation as the “Vacationland,” what is less understood is the progressive deindustrialization and current threat to livelihoods of local coastal communities. Along with the loss of coastal job opportunities, the buildings essential to these industries are too losing their structural integrity and community importance. These buildings in themselves possess an interesting character that alludes to their functional histories. Growing up in Maine I have often been exposed to these structures having close ties to the coast as my family derives from Tremont and Southwest Harbor, Maine. My grandfather was a great craftsman, working in similar building types as a carpenter, as well as a shipbuilder. The final product of this project will ultimately be a series of paintings portraying these structures in a new light.
• Connect the public with building preservation – cultural heritage- connection to one of Maine’s largest watersheds, through painting.
• Analyze quality of place.
• Gain experience and academic advancement; by bringing together my passion for fine art and architecture with a real world application of my major.
• Interview and receive feedback from local Maine artists engaged in landscape/structure painting; Specifically Connie Hayes and Sally Loughridge.
• Connie Hayes’s book, Painting Maine: The Borrowed Views of Connie Hayes embodies a series of paintings of homes that acquire interesting views. She “borrows” their view by painting in rich vibrant colors, ultimately creating her own view/identity. Hayes lives and works in Rockland, Maine where I was recently lucky enough to observe some of her works from her Borrowed Views series.
• Sally Loughridge shares her love for the Maine coast through different paint media, each creating different appeals. She strives to capture the changes in weather and season, and is recently focusing on the Kennebec Estuary.
• Identify old, abandoned structures that have had a historically significant presence in the community.
• Create concept sketches to develop careful analyses of the form, shape, structure, and configuration of each building, including the relationship each has to its surroundings.
• Gather information from local community members as well as historical articles and newspapers.
• More crucially, Engage the community, as their unique connections and interpretations act as my scope into the identity of the abandoned structures
• Photograph each Community member for my final presentation, allowing me to visually connect the community with their appropriate building.
• Paint a series of different aspects of each building that allows me to thoroughly capture its identity
• An Exhibit of this work will bring together local artists, community members as well as those engaged in the preservation efforts including local land trusts.
Project’s Place in a Larger Body of Works
• Meant to contribute to preservation of in town buildings that are in danger of being torn down due to new development, while farm land and structures protection are also being threatened by sprawl. The paintings and interviews will lead to a greater understanding to the quality of place in our coastal communities linked specifically to the Kennebec River and hopefully lead to the preservation of them.
• Tying me back to my own working class family heritage, this immersion of beauty and environmental significance will have the potential to make a contribution to the communities.
• The project will inform my future final advanced studio project next fall, which will be the culmination of my focus on architecture and painting Visual Arts at Bowdoin.
• Non-conventional study of buildings through painting will also allow me to understand architecture at a different level for future architectural graduate studies.