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Vermillion farm photographs exhibited at State Capitol

(Submitted by Mike Hazard/HAFA Farm)1 / 4
(Submitted by Mike Hazard/HAFA Farm)2 / 4
(Submitted by Mike Hazard/HAFA Farm)3 / 4
The images on this page are part of the Seeds of Change: A Portrait of the Hmong American Farmers Association exhibit at the State Capitol. (Submitted by Mike Hazard/HAFA Farm)4 / 4

A locally focused exhibit, "Seeds of Change: A Portrait of the Hmong American Farmers Association," will be on display in rooms 320 and 321 at the Minnesota State Capitol through May 26, 2017. The photographs and books on view in the exhibit were created by multimedia artist Mike Hazard. The images comprise a year in the lives of Hmong American farmers working on the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) farm located in Vermillion Township.

"The show is called Seeds of Change because we are working to change the way we grow our food, the way we work together as farmers and consumers and the way we appreciate farmers in general and Hmong American farmers in particular," Hazards said.

As an urban artist, Hazard said that he loves the way his experience of photographing the farm has changed the way he looks at the food he eats. He can thank Chao and Mao for the Brussels sprouts, Judy and Dhoua for the tomatoes, Wang Ger for the watermelon, Teng and Shoua for the potatoes and so on, he said.

"Knowing who is growing the vegetables and the labor of love that goes into farming makes the food taste better," Hazard said. "It's personal."

Hazard said that he hopes people who come to the exhibit will view their food and farmers in a different way. He hopes that people see the beauty and the labor of love that grow flowers and vegetables, he said.

Pakou Hang, executive director at HAFA, said that Hazard's photos are beautiful memories that he captured. The photos document what the farmers were doing and the changes on the farm.

"He's such a gifted artist that he is able to reveal and lend insight into the work of the farmers," Hang said.

One thing that the exhibit does a great job of showcasing is the diversity of farmers and farming, Hang said. There is a family element to farming at HAFA and it is visible in the photographs. In addition, the photos showcase a variety of farming that celebrates the rich culture of Minnesota's Hmong farmers, she said.

"The produce is so colorful and the produce is so different from in the past ... the redness of the radishes but also the green of the bitter melon ... the diversity in vegetables that we're now growing," Hang said.

The exhibit, which is co-presented by the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Minnesota Department of Administration and HAFA, displays 35 photographs on the wall, a book and a link to watch a video. Seeds of Change can be viewed during open hours of the Capitol building including Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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