Follow her anywhere: Whitefield’s Sheepscot General on any given Friday evening is a busy, fun place, in large part due to the fact that Fridays from 5-8 p.m. are Pizza Night, the one night each week when one can partake in the sourdough-crusted gloriousness topped with fresh (and often delightfully interesting) ingredients that is Sheepscot General’s regionally famous pizza.
Last Friday, Nov. 1, was even busier than usual, as it was the first Friday of the month, aka time for the opening reception for Sheepscot General’s monthly art exhibit.
This month’s art show, “Follow You Anywhere,” features the work of Whitefield photographer and organic dairy farmer Annie Watson, who offers artful rural photographs featuring as often as not her herd of black-and-white dairy cows and her two young sons, Oliver, who is 4 ½, and Henry, who is 3 – sometimes in the same photograph.
For instance, one particularly touching boy-and-cow piece features one of Watson’s little sons, bundled up in winter clothes and standing in the barn in between two cows from whose nostrils come long blasts of visibly frigid air.
All of Watson’s photos, even the more adventurous, digitally altered ones, are visually pleasing and collectively tell the story of life on Watson’s working farm.
I talked to Watson via email after the reception, asking several questions about why she does what she does, and a little bit about her history. It is intriguing to find out how the former Massachusetts resident came to live in Whitefield and work as a farmer and a photographer.
I will let Watson tell her story:
“I have always been fascinated by the art of storytelling. At a young age, I developed a love for taking the written word and turning it into performance. This passion ultimately led me to the theater. I continued my education with an emphasis on performance at Brown University (in Rhode Island) and was involved in numerous local and professional productions after moving to Maine in 2005.
“However, when the farm and our children came into the picture, my creative expression shifted. I am no longer on stage telling someone else’s story, but instead telling the story of our life through my photographs.
“My husband and I are full-time organic dairy farmers. In addition to being a mother to our boys, I am also very involved as an advocate for organic farming — most specifically organic dairy farming.
“Taking photos began as a hobby six years ago, when we purchased our farm in Whitefield, but it has grown into something much more. I have a record of the adventures my family and I have throughout the fields of Whitefield, and my photos provide viewers with a window into our colorful life. Also, I find occasionally using creative editing tools to digitally enhance and break down a selection of photos further allows me to tell our story with added vibrancy and illumination, capturing the magical essence of this rural life.”
And here is what is most compelling:
“This story is worth telling. There are fewer and fewer farming families in our current society. My children are experiencing part of a bygone way of life that has so many layers and is incredibly demanding, both physically and emotionally. Bearing witness to my children’s experiences on our farm has been the greatest inspiration for me creatively. Our farm life is so incredibly vibrant; I recognize how fortunate we are to experience the richness and depth of our surroundings, every day.”
Watson’s illuminating show runs through the end of November.
Sheepscot General is located at 98 Townhouse Road, Whitefield, and is online at sheepscotgeneral.com.
Connect with Watson on her A. Watson Photography Facebook page at tinyurl.com/yyoxlu9w.
(Christine LaPado-Breglia is an award-winning journalist who has written about the arts in both California and Maine. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543.)