Dana Matthews – One Farm One Decade

Dana Matthews

One Farm One Decade


Over thirty years ago, photographer Dana Matthews and writer Richard Giles met in the rural deep south. Matthews came from her grandmother’s farm and Giles from the Delta by way of farms in the Mississippi Black Belt. Between Matthews’s home in Alabama and Giles’s home in Mississippi lies Hale county Alabama, where Walker Evans and James Agee collaborated to make “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”, that amazing document about people struggling to survive in places where food, hardship, beauty and hunger meet. These realities very much describe the lives of small-scale farmers in America today.

We came north, not together, but by separate accidents, and found our familiar ‘south’ in the Catskills region of New York State. Delaware County, three hours out of the great city, the watershed from which New York drinks, with its deep rich soils along the rivers, is one of the poorest counties in the state. This ironic tune plays again and again across our country rich land, poor people; good food gone over to a land of potato chips. Giles came back to the country with his wife Holley, to farm small and to write. Matthews came from her Brooklyn art studio in a blighted urban wasteland to her cabin in the woods to create.

All of this is to say that the collaboration between this photographer and this writer began years ago and now lives on an old farm in a whole new world of local food, clean food, food touched again by human hands. And the life of the farm and the life of the food comes, yes, from the dirt, but also from the hands of those who grow and harvest it, wash it and pack it into boxes. And this collaboration comes to this land and to these farmers who farm the land to ask for images the photographs and the paragraphs each lusting in their own way for images that, taken together, might make sense of the life of our food.

Excerpts of the writing that will accompany the photos can be found in the “additional details” portion next to the photographs.




Dana Matthews was born in Alabama and currently resides both in Brooklyn, NY and upstate in the Catskills. She received a BFA at the University of Alabama and an MFA at Rhode Island School of Design. For the past twenty years she has worked with her cameras creating photographs and installations that are related to the environment and the sensitive time that we live in. She chooses to practice traditional and alternative processes such as wet-plate collodion, cyanotypes and gelatin silver printing.

Currently, she has a solo show of seascapes at Urban Zen in Los Angeles, CA. Most recently, she had a solo show titled “The Cruel Radiance of What Is” at chashama gallery in Chelsea, NYC  and a photographic installation as well as ‘still life’ photographs in an exhibition titled “Freak Antique” at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Dana’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and is represented in domestic and international collections.


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Dana Matthews


5 Responses to “Dana Matthews – One Farm One Decade”

  • Beautiful work…both photographically and working the earth.

  • Great photos, great story, absolutely adore #17.

    Congratulations Dana

  • First look: a totally wonderful integration of photography and writing. Here is the strength of the long-term essay. Thank you.


  • The imagery is great. My reaction to #17 was the same as Gordon’s. It ought to become a classic.

    What little I read of the writing was good and I wanted to read it all, but the way the words are displayed in html on Burn is just too painful. I have been traveling almost continually for a month and a half now and in that time my iPad, which I left home, died. I Just plugged it in and I will look at the essay again on it, even though the images will be much smaller than on my 27 inch screen, just so I can read the text in a more pleasant and reader-friendly format.

    I would note that NYT Lens, NPR picture story and many other online picture magazines have come up with html formats that make the text easy and pleasant to read. Maybe Burn could find a way to do so as well.

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