The LAST of the HILL FARMS: Photographs by Richard Brown

Richard Brown’s recently published retrospective—The Last of the Hill Farms: Echoes of Vermont’s Past—showcases the photographer’s most cherished subject: Vermont’s hill farmers. This exhibition, which bears the same name, offers the chance to experience the Vermont that Richard entered and began to photograph in the 1970s. 

Fifty years later, the lives, landscapes, and time period he so lovingly captured are available for viewing through these large-format, finely detailed, photographic prints, which were hand-made by the artist. 


On display through July
Exhibit Reception & Artist Talk
Food, Drinks, and Talk by Richard W. Brown
Friday, May 18th from 5-7PM at Vermont Folklife Center


The Last of the Hill Farms

Photographs by Richard W. Brown

Ethnographic researchers have long acknowledged that the artistic hand of the documentarian influences how we see the people and places they portray. Richard W. Brown exerts his artistic influence through the aesthetic mastery of the photographic medium. We are shown the everyday lives of Vermont hill farmers during this time period through the lens of intrigue and nostalgia that, in part, propelled Richard’s own excitement and curiosity.

It was a world of Jersey cows and Belgian work horses, wood-burning Glenwoods, and dirt-floored basements full of canned applesauce, mustard pickles and stewed tomatoes in glinting rows on sagging wooden shelves. Autumn mornings, when the sharp fragrance of wood smoke and rotted manure laced the air, when the frost was thick on the land, and the maples began to blaze, I thought I’d died and gone to photographer’s heaven.
— Richard Brown

The Last of the Hill Farms is a collection of moments born from the land and the people—then crafted by Richard’s careful hand with preparation, patience, and a bit of serendipity.

The moment, for instance, when my 8x10 was setup to capture storm clouds building over Barnet Center and Walter Nutter miraculously appeared stage left, driving his scattered herd of Jerseys back towards the barn for their evening milking.
— Richard Brown

Richard’s photographs reflect his fondness for a time when Vermonters earned their livelihoods from the land without much aid from internal combustion engines.

Here the twentieth century was stretched more thinly over its predecessor than elsewhere, and with curiosity and persistence it was possible to catch glimpses of the nineteenth century lurking just beneath its surface.
— Richard Brown

We cannot go back in time, nor truly comprehend what daily life was like from this distance. Yet we can gaze, as Richard did, at the rolling rock strewn hills, the weathered barns, and sun- and wind-worn faces—and glimpse the texture of livelihoods coaxed from an unforgiving, if beautiful, land.