Anderson University Art+Design alumna Kelley Jordan Heneveld BA '07 will be exhibiting a group of photographs at the Herron Art Center in Indianapolis on Friday, July 5. Her work will be showing as part of Food Con IV, “the unconventional convention celebrating the art and culture of food in Indiana.”
Heneveld is a photographer based in Indianapolis. Her commercial work ranges from weddings and portraits to food, products, and spaces.
At Food Con IV, the work she’ll show is a little different. The exhibition will feature 20 large-scale photographs, each mounted on wood, with just enough transparency for the grain of the wood to show through the surface. These photographs belong to a project Heneveld calls Farm Stories.
[Photo: An image from Kelley Jordan Heneveld's Farm Stories]
For Heneveld, Farm Stories started with a growing interest in food and where it comes from — and a desire to travel. She began visiting farms to “connect people with farmers who encourage healthy stewardship of our bodies, communities, and earth.” Her travels have taken her to farms throughout Indiana and Michigan, as well as the United Kingdom and France. Everywhere she goes she takes her camera.
One of her memorable experiences in Europe was, ironically, photographing American bison on a farm in England. “I got to be right up close with them, and it was incredible. They are gorgeous and very intense creatures ... so huge — and you know that they could just demolish you.”
Heneveld’s passion for Farm Stories is fueled by what she has learned about the complexities of the food system, such as lack of transparency in food labels, government financing of agriculture, imbalance between supply and demand, the relationship between food and community health, the need for small farmers to have organizations that enable them to be better connected to each other, consumer expectations, and the cost it takes to get our food from the ground to our plates.
With Farm Stories, Heneveld wants to tell the story of the farmers — the good they do, the life they live, and the struggles they face. She has come to respect the people who have shared with her “what it's like to really be investing in the earth, in growing food … and how much work that is and how lonely it is for a lot of people here because there's so few people doing it.”
As she’s traveled, some of the stories she has uncovered have been inspiring while others have been disappointing. The challenge for her is in presenting the balance. “If you're not presenting any of the problems then people don't see why you would need to change,” and yet “there are so many people that are doing it well, and I want to tell those stories.”
Thinking back on her experiences as an Art+Design major at AU, Heneveld can trace connections to the work she does now to the ideas she was pursuing then. “The driving force behind [my student work] was seeing beauty in the normal everyday life, being more intentional about how you live, and connecting to what is actually around you. While I wouldn't have been able to articulate it then, that was at the core of what I was doing, and it's similar now — it just looks different.”
Maybe it is also about hope. What inspires Heneveld most is “going to a small farm where they are digging in the dirt and really putting their life into what feeds me.” She sees farming as an act that can be immensely life-giving.
Food Con IV is already the third showing for Farm Stories, but Heneveld sees this as just the beginning. “I think it has a place in the world that it hasn't found yet,” she says, likening her role in Farm Stories to that of an author writing a book whose characters have a mind of their own. “I feel like that with this project. It's going to go somewhere, I just don't know where yet.”
Heneveld does know she wants to keep traveling — perhaps to India for tea farms, or to rice paddies in China, or to Africa to learn about cocoa and coffee.
As she reflects on the journey Farm Stories has taken her so far, Heneveld is grateful. “It's been a huge blessing to be able to connect these two things. I've been shooting forever and been caring for food more and more, but never really known how to marry those two things. Now that I have [Farm Stories], it makes so much more sense; I have a purpose for my life. This is something that matters, and I can share it with the world.”
The artist reception for Food Con IV is Friday, July 5, 6 to 10 p.m. The Harrison Art Center is located at 1505 North Delaware Street in Indianapolis.
The Department of Art+Design at Anderson University offers majors in the areas of fine arts studio, visual communication design, and visual arts education. Students gain experience through intensive studio practice, professional internships, and by working closely with a faculty of professional artists and designers.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.