Studio Place Arts is presenting an exhibit, “Stewards of the Land,” by local artist Orah Moore at The Morse Block Deli (located at 260 N. Main Street, Barre).
Orah Moore is a classically trained fine art photographer and founding member of Women in Photography, a national organization. She has worked in commercial photography since 1977 including a position as a publicity photographer for PBS. She is the founder of Haymaker Press.
According to Orah, “I have been studying the lifestyle of Montana ranchers, from the romantic to the mundane. I am interested in the spirit that impels them, the land that nurtures them, the storms they weather, and the livestock that supports their way of life.”
“As a fine arts and commercial photographer since 1977, I find I turn my camera most often on people and landscape. The years 1984 and 1985 found me working as a publicity photographer on a PBS mini-series, “The West of the Imagination,” a history of the American West through the eyes of its painters, sculptors, and photographers. On one segment of the project, I was working in Nevada City, Montana, on a re-creation of the painter-cowboy, Charlie Russell. Before sunrise on the day I was to fly back to my then home in Los Angeles, a cattle drive came through the only street in town. I heard the bawling animals from my bed. Looking out my cabin window, I saw that the cattle were accompanied by whip-snapping riders.”
“I reached for my cameras as I hastily pulled on my pants and parka. I grabbed by pink tennis shoes, not wanting to waste time lacing up my work boots. Quickly, I ran outside. The ranch owner was trailing behind the herd in a truck. She told me it was alright to walk along with the cattle. It was freezing cold and barely light. I had only two rolls of slow film left. My pink tennies were getting smeared with manure. I was scared of cows. I was the only one on foot. It started to snow … I loved every minute of it!”
“Freeze-frames of the ranch life style were indelibly stamping themselves on my consciousness. A desire to know more about this way of life dawned at that moment and was reinforced when I saw the proof sheets. From interviewing and photographing ranchers, I observed that these people value their freedom and independence more than anything else. I could also see that ranching as a way of life was slowly being eroded by tax-dodge ranchers, insurance companies, and big business. Many ranchers wonder if the next generation will be able to or even want to carry on with the family ranch. This concern made me visit Montana over a four-year period to record ranch life.”
“This concern was abruptly brought home to me when I received a letter six weeks after photographing a branding at Billy Cremer’s ranch, saying that Billy had been killed in an accident. Gone… his story, his outrageous laugh, his personal history of struggle to carry on the lifestyle his family chose. The photograph I took of Billy searing the “Lazy K” brand into a calf took on new meaning. It was no longer a simple record of the seasonal ritual of marking the new calf crop. Instead, I saw the timeless dedication of friends and family rallying to help one another accomplish a job that is nearly impossible to do on one’s own. I saw resolve in Billy’s powerful arms as he branded another calf. A portrait of present-day ranch life emerges from this picture and many others.”
This show of handprinted silverprint photographs is on view through August 10, 2018.