Artist Profile: Dawn Whitmore

Photographer Dawn Whitmore found a fascinating niche where her work can stand out. We spoke with her about developing a concept and an audience.

 

"Buena Vista" photograph by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstiute.org

“Buena Vista” photograph by Dawn Whitmore

 

ABI:  What is the Barn Project, and how are you working on it?

DW:  The Barn Project began after a personal experience. In 2011, as an adult, an illness brought me back to my high school area home of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. During this illness, there was a time of introspection, the type of thing which can happen when you are sick.

My travels through the county revealed a sad reality. The two farms where my family resided during my high school years, are no more. One is a subdivision and the other is a middle school. Searches for photos of the properties initially produced no results.

 

"Aspen Dale" photograph by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

“Aspen Dale” photograph by Dawn Whitmore.

 

My family finds humor in me being known as The “Old Barn” Lady and having the mission “to assist farmers and their families to create and preserve the history of their farmland for future generations.”  Especially, when I lived on the farm back then…I wanted away from the farm.

The Barn Project has grown and evolved. What began as a photographer taking photos and putting them online is now a book in progress entitled, “Century Barns: History, Heritage, and Their Humans.”

 

"Farley Vale, Past and Present" photography by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

“Farley Vale, Past and Present” photography by Dawn Whitmore.

 

“Century Barns…” is combining my photography with the stories of the caretakers of the properties. There are three criteria to be included as a Century Barn:

  1. Have a barn a minimum of 100 years old on the property
  2. Property be actively farmed or involved in the agritourism/agribusiness industry
  3. Sign a property release

 

"The Barns at Hamilton Station" photograph by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

“The Barns at Hamilton Station” photograph by Dawn Whitmore.

 

ABI:  What interest and feedback have you gotten that led you to finding a wide market for your work?                                  

DW:  The Barn Project has had great interest and feedback, and not only from our local region. People in other states regularly share where properties are located. This interest has increased greatly since beginning “Century Barns…” in 2016.  At the current time, we are focusing on Virginia properties while keeping track of each lead for when we expand past Virginia. Yet, this doesn’t mean the project is only receiving interest from Virginians.

There is the value of genealogy to consider too. Genealogy is the #2 hobby in the United States. People all over the country want to know their family history. This aspect of genealogy will take “Century Barns…” past being a “regional” work. It has been stated, “If a book has a person’s family name indexed in it, they will buy it.”

 

"Estate at White Hall Stable Chapel" photography by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

“Estate at White Hall Stable Chapel” photography by Dawn Whitmore.

 

ABI:  Describe your goals. How will you take your body of work and project further in the future?    

DW:  We see “Century Barns: History, Heritage, and Their Humans” being a series of books. There have already been requests from historical societies, local libraries and a state park for the book upon completion.

 

"Aspen Grove Blue Tractor" photograph by Dawn Whitmore. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

“Aspen Grove Blue Tractor” photograph by Dawn Whitmore.

 

Our current goal is summed up in our vision: “to assist farmers and their families to create and preserve the history of their farmland for future generations.”

My objective is to share each story through the photographs and writing of the caretakers for each Century Barn.

 

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