Hillary Berg: The States Project: Minnesota
I met Hillary Berg through the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is also an FY 2015 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant in Photography for her project County Lines. The great majority of art photographers in Minnesota are concentrated in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I happen to live in Central Minnesota, which is considered part of greater Minnesota, or “out-state” in the local lingo, so when I learn of someone who is also working in greater Minnesota then I am particularly curious about their work. Berg’s work in County Line is a compelling look at contemporary rural life in Minnesota.
Hillary Berg was raised in Iowa and moved to Minnesota to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, receiving a BFA in Photography in 2008. She is the recipient of a 2015 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant for her current work in progress, County Lines.
Two years ago, my boyfriend, Wade, and I bought a farm in the rural town of Isanti, Minnesota. Far from the comfort and routine we found within the paved grid of Minneapolis, our days gave way to pulling barbed wire fencing, planting small crops, tractors, chickens, and pitch-black nights.
There were challenges and misadventures through which to navigate, but the one that I took to heart was a looming sense of becoming placeless. The detachment from a community, or anyone for that matter, was persistent, so I began working at a small café in town. Slowly, the unfamiliarity unraveled and I became connected to the lives that wandered through the door simply by living in the same county. Leaning out the drive-thru window, I learned who was pregnant, how many wars one had fought, and what candidate was most likely to be the next sheriff. At the farm, Wade and I began exchanging baked goods and eggs with Duane and Dolores across the way, and made small talk over the hum of their idling ATV. Larry farmed the fields to the east, Dennis the fields to the west, and Rick had the cows to the north. The deer, the coyotes, and the pileated woodpeckers surfaced in the landscape, and I began to find home in the open spaces.
As I continue to photograph my surroundings and the culture within, the individuals and the landscapes portray a humble and noble collective that represents not only a vivid survey of life in the rural Midwest, but my own pilgrimage to find a sense of place.
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Ben Moren: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 12th, 2015
Pao Houa Her: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 11th, 2015
Ryan Aasen: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 10th, 2015
Hillary Berg: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 9th, 2015
Eric William Carroll: The States Project: MinnesotaDecember 8th, 2015