American Portraits: The Family Farm, fiber artist Patty Kennedy-Zafred’s solo exhibition, speaks to the rich history of American family farming and its rapid decline in modern time. It is a companion exhibition that echoes the larger narrative of CC’s current social justice exhibition, Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art, in Lawrenceville.
Kennedy-Zafred aims to evoke memories and history by bringing unique stories to life through the use of fabric, dyes, silkscreens, and ink. The interpretation of her work is conceived through the lens of individual experiences, memories, or perspectives. Her quilts marry a lifelong fascination with photography, history, and stitch, often reflecting faces of pride and dignity, sometimes under challenging circumstances.
The modern day agricultural industry has begun to eradicate individually owned family farms, hence the quilts and art books in the exhibition highlight the importance of family farms as an important element of American history that cannot be replaced and should not be forgotten. During the 1900s, almost half of the U.S. population worked on farms, whereas today that number has dropped to only 2% of the population. The images used and screen-printed on vintage feed sacks and hand dyed fabrics in Kennedy-Zafred’s American Portraits series were inspired by the Farm Security Administration Photograph Collection, held by the Library of Congress, and taken from 1937-1942. “Being raised in Ohio, where we were surrounded by fields and small family farms, this Series is an homage to a lifestyle and time period that no longer exists,” states Kennedy-Zafred.
Pictured is Harvesting Hope, 2021. Hand pulled silkscreened images, hand dyed fabric; image transfer of text; machine pieced and quilted, 69″H x 55″W. Photo: Larry Berman.
CC’s BNY Mellon Satellite Gallery is located at 500 Grant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (in the Lobby of the Steel Plaza T-Station in downtown Pittsburgh). This exhibition is open daily through midnight and is also free to the public.
General operating support for Contemporary Craft is provided by Allegheny Regional Asset District, Windgate Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, The George G Fund, Cathy Raphael, Opportunity Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Elizabeth R. Raphael Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Jack Buncher Foundation, The Fine Foundation, Giant Eagle Foundation, Anonymous foundation, and by members of the Heart of Craft circle of donors.