Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
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Canton, NY 13617
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TAUNY invites the community to the opening reception for its next exhibition “From Jamaica to Peru” on Saturday, April 13 from 2:00-4:00 pm at The TAUNY Center in Canton. The opening reception will include Q&A with the curator and photographer, Ben Stechschulte, and light refreshments will be served. Visitors can see the exhibition in TAUNY’s main gallery and participate in related programs from April 13-October 26, 2019.

In this photography-based exhibition, guest curator and photographer Ben Stechschulte explores the inextricable fortunes of TAUNY North Country Heritage Award recipient Forrence Orchards (Peru, NY), in the northern Adirondacks, and the generations of Jamaican men who travel thousands of miles to work there each year. Stechshulte’s images move through the 2016 production season from orchard preparations, to harvest, to winter pruning. They give a sense not only of the scope of the work itself—including the varied challenges faced by this orchard and similar operations around the region—but of the craft, commitment, and vibrant personalities of this group of Jamaican men who help see the orchard through these challenges every season. As the curator highlights, there are crew members who have been coming to the area for up to ten months out of the year, for decades. Just as the orchard itself has been handed down through the Forrence family over generations, the craft of orchard maintenance and harvest has been handed down from fathers to sons within the Jamaican community at the orchard as well. The exhibit offers an opportunity not only to glimpse the daily life and work of this group of men, but to see their vital role in helping sustain the orchard and, through that work, distinctive occupational and agricultural traditions in the region.


“This exhibit shows the beauty, effort, and skill involved in the Jamaican apple pickers’ work,” says TAUNY Director of Research and Programs Camilla Ammirati, “and through that lens it also does much more than that. It tells moving, important stories about the life of our region, giving insight into topics from the right way to twist an apple off a branch to the question of what it means to maintain a tradition—or even just to make a living—in the face of large-scale economic and environmental change.”


TAUNY presents “From Jamaica to Peru” as part of this year’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the North Country Heritage Awards. Forrence Orchards received a TAUNY North Country Heritage Award in 2009 in recognition of the multi-generational ownership and operation of the orchard. Through its in-depth look at the essential role the Jamaican apple pickers play there, this exhibit offers insight on one of the main topics TAUNY is exploring through the 25th anniversary celebrations: the ever-dynamic balance of change and continuity in the ways deeply-rooted North Country traditions are carrying on.


A version of this project was originally published as an Adirondack Life magazine feature in October 2017. The TAUNY Center exhibition offers an expanded presentation of photos along with a new short film by the photographer, based on his fieldwork, and selected objects reflecting the work and daily experience of the Forrence Orchards apple pickers.


Ben Stechschulte is a portrait, editorial, and documentary photographer and filmmaker based in the Adirondacks and New York City.


TAUNY presents this exhibition in partnership with Adirondack Life magazine. This project is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Support for this project was provided by the Donald W. and Dorothe P. Stechshulte Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. Special thanks to the Forrence family and the apple pickers at Forrence Orchards for their participation in this project.


Learn more about Forrence Orchards and TAUNY’s North Country Heritage Awards program at: www.tauny.org/ncha.


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