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Folklife center exhibit focuses on state’s logging industry

MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Folklife Center will host an opening reception and artist talk for its new exhibit, “Portrait of a Forest: Men and Machine,” on Friday, Oct. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
The exhibit, which combines contemporary photographs by Weybridge photojournalist George Bellerose, with historical photographs and commentary by the logging and forest products community, will run through Jan. 9.
“Unlike Vermonters of the past, many of us no longer have a direct connection to the working landscape. We see logging trucks and the occasional roadside log collection, but rarely do we have contact with loggers or fully understand their importance to the state,” Bellerose said of the origin of his project.
“My hope is that this documentation will help everyone better understand the challenges facing the industry today and appreciate its role in preserving a healthy forest,” Bellerose added.
“This project is an essential part of the Vermont Folklife Center’s mission to help people become visible to one another,” Greg Sharrow, co-director of the center said. “George Bellerose’s photography opens a powerful window into the lives and work of loggers in Vermont.”
Coverage ranges from solo loggers with a chain saw to multi-machine chipping operations, from backyard sawmills to state-of-the-art flooring mills.
The exhibit and projected book are companion pieces to an earlier Bellerose and Vermont Folklife Center project, “Forty-Six Years of Pretty Straight Going: The Life of a Family Dairy Farm.”
“Both occupations involve long days and hard work. Both are often a generational way of life and a tough way to make a living. Both have shaped the landscape and culture of Vermont. Both face economic challenges today, and both often feel that the work they do is not understood or appreciated,” Bellerose said.
As part of the 70-photograph exhibit, a panel discussion on the future of the working forest is planned. For more information about “Portrait of a Forest: Men and Machine,” call (802) 388-4964 or visit the VFC website, www.vermontfolklifecenter.org.
The Vision & Voice Documentary Workspace is ADA accessible on the first floor of the Vermont Folklife Center headquarters building at 88 Main St. in Middlebury. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

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