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Rosemary Allen


After working on the Construction Worker series, I was encouraged by my peers to include women. Women construction workers were difficult to find, so I searched for a profession favored by women, one that would provide a similar satisfaction in work. I was looking for nobility and heroic efforts. After months of consideration and false starts, I finally decided on the new urban farmers--women gardeners.

A few courageous, hard-working women have taken on the job of redeeming land in Oakland. They looked at vacant lots and saw the possibility of growing vegetables and fruits, raising chickens for eggs, and, in some cases, raising animals for meat. They set about organizing and transforming neglected plots into bountiful community gardens.

As I paint, I endeavor to let the process show using gestural brush strokes, and I leave the canvases unfinished, mirroring the same unfinished look of the garden plots. I chose a limited palette to match the earthiness of the endeavor.

Unlike most of my men, these subjects chose to smile, possibly indicating the satisfaction they took in their work as well as the comfort they felt with a woman photographer.

I hope my work helps to shine some light on these women changing the landscape for a greener future in California.
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