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Des Moines Arts Festival Will Feature FarmHer Photos of Women In Agriculture

Amy Mayer
IPR file
A girl looks at images of women in ag in a calendar at the FarmHer booth during the 2016 Farm Progress Show.

The annual Des Moines Arts Festival returns this weekend with a new attraction.

"Where Agriculture Meets Art" will display images of female farmers that Marji Guyler-Alaniz photographed as part of her FarmHer project.

FarmHer began as a way to share the untold female stories of agriculture, Guyler-Analiz said during an interview outside a recent event she hosted in downtown Des Moines.

Credit Amy Mayer / IPR
FarmHer founder Marji Guyler-Alaniz participates in a session during the recent "I am FarmHer" conference in downtown Des Moines.

Even though women have always worked on farms, she saw that the face of ag was usually depicted as male. So for the past six years, Guyler-Alaniz has traveled the country meeting and photographing so-called FarmHers. Their stories deserve to be told, she said.

"For the whole rest of the world that eats every day, I think that we can all connect through these (stories) because they're stories of people," she said. "They're stories of sometimes good things, sometimes bad things and life. Right? It's real life."

FarmHer has a blog, a podcast and a weekly show on RFD-TV. While shooting the television episodes and hosting the show, Guyler-Alaniz still takes all the still images during a visit to a new FarmHer.

"When I get to that farm, I want to make sure that I show that woman's story. And I feel like there's one way to do that and that's to get to know her a little bit beforehand," she said.

Credit Amy Mayer / IPR
FarmHer began with still photos and a blog. Some of those photos will be exhibited at the Des Moines Arts Festival this weekend.

Guyler-Alaniz started FarmHer on her own and has grown it to include three full time and three part time staff. She says there are thousands of women in the FarmHer database and she digs into that to find the next ones to feature. FarmHer puts on its own events and participates in farm shows and fairs to help women in agriculture connect with each other.

But Guyler-Alaniz said photography remains her first love.

"I still get really, really excited when we're done filming to go back and look at those photos and see if I captured that lady the way that I saw her," she said.

Doing that takes effort and it takes time, but Guyler-Alaniz said it's work she enjoys.

Guyler-Alaniz will be at the Des Moines Arts Festival each of the three days to talk with people about her work.

Other visual art as well as music, theater and food are also part of the event, which runs Friday through Sunday in downtown Des Moines.

Follow Amy on Twitter: @AgAmyinAmes.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames