Forty-six visual artists, ten writers, two ace musicians; a few pounds of local cheeses, wine in the evening followed by coffee & cookie next morning; conversation & joy from a crowd of about 350! Folks came saw, discussed then voted for their favourites.
People’s choice winner was Erica Taylor, with a striking likeness of a milker. Erica is also a writer & a short piece accompanied her painting.
This man has worked the solo night shift as an employee on dairy farms for the past 18 years. His is a face of Canadian farming that few see.
He is shown here embedded in the surreal metallic setting of a stylized modern milking parlour, surrounded by pipes and hoses, stainless steel and plastic, with cows appearing to be part of the machinery.
Though he cares deeply about the animals, he has to consider them moving parts of the milking apparatus in order to get through each shift. Farm-level dairying has evolved into what is basically factory work.
He describes how his arms feel robotic through their repetitive contorted movements, as he cleans udders and places milkers. He describes how some nights he is almost hallucinating from fatigue. These observations prompted the layout, media, and setting of this portrait.
He is painted completely differently from the background, fleshed out and in colour, in contrast to the setting which is drawn in a flat mechanical style on metal leaf, with lines converging vortex-like behind his head.
He appears to be the sole being of substance here, on ‘pause’ while moving through time, alone, until it’s time to punch out. His face shows exhaustion, loneliness and drudgery… but also stoicism and tenacity; he has provided for his family, and has cared for countless cows, and has delivered over a thousand calves with care and concern.
His direct gaze challenges the viewer to recognize the modern ‘farmhand’.
© Erica Taylor 2019