The Spaces Between: Reflecting Minnesota Relics Photographs by Ann Arbor Miller

Let’s get the embarrassment out of the way. It’s been months – and I do mean many, many months – since I’ve posted anything new on this little website. I’m sure there are some semi-valid reasons I could rattle on about, including an abundance client work and deadline-driven assignments as well as a serious illness last fall that took me out of commission for the better part of a month. The bottom line is that I haven’t yet found a way to work writing and posting journal posts into my daily, weekly or even monthly workflow. Maybe it’s because I get so tied up in whatever I’m working on at the moment that I don’t make time to reflect or share. Maybe I’m just not cut out to blog.

Thankfully, there are people in my life who remind, encourage and even pester when necessary. A few of these people are responsible for my application to the TMI Hospitality Resident Artist Program, which is open to artists in Fargo, N.D., as well as neighboring West Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn. I am the third artist selected to participate in the program and have been hard at work to develop a new series for exhibition. “The Spaces Between: Reflecting Minnesota Relics” features a selection of eight photographs and opens Thursday, March 27 with a public reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at TMI’s headquarters, located at 4850 32nd Ave. S. in Fargo, N.D.

The exhibition represents just one component of the program. I am most excited about a layer of professional development made available to me. This is coming at a good time and provides extra incentive to consider my work, my life priorities and how I want to engage with photography. I feel fortunate to have the luxury to consider these and other questions.

If you happen to be in Fargo the evening of March 27, stop by TMI and say hello. It would be great to connect.

P.S. To fellow artists in the Fargo area who are interested in the TMI Hospitality Resident Artist Program the deadline for the next round is coming up April 30. Information about that program and several others is available via The Arts Partnership.

Former Classroom, Sandstone School

Hello friends. It’s a fine summer day here in the Red River Valley.

Posts and updates have been absent for far too long. I’m going to largely skip over the many reasons why my online journaling efforts have dwindled. That said, I don’t think I’m built for blogging. All too often it just feels like one more thing to do. Truth be told, I’d rather be making new images, playing with Young M., reading a book [as in a traditional/physical book], drinking press pot coffee, thrift store shopping or working on our 90-year-old house. You get the picture [pun intended, sort of].

Here are a few items of news to mention.

> Inside three weeks last month, I visited 11 Minnesota communities on assignment for Ground Level, a Minnesota Public Radio News project that produces in-depth, issue-based reporting on various topics. The series “Reviving Minnesota Relics” is now online. It’s a comprehensive collection of stories [written and audio], information and photographs. The image above was created in a third-floor classroom of the vacant Sandstone School in Sandstone, Minn.

> A color photograph I made in 2011 in Fargo, N.D., titled “Eleven Past Thirteen” appears in the most recent issue of the Whitefish Review, a twice yearly journal published and produced in Montana. I’m on Page 68. Many moons ago I worked as a photographer/reporter for the Whitefish Pilot, a weekly community newspaper. It’s pretty cool to have a small connection to Whitefish again after all these years.

> Last, I joined the world of Twitter a month or so ago. You can find me at @annarbormiller. This happened for two reasons: A dear friend who is super social media savvy has been insisting on it for longer than I care to admit AND an editor whom I admire and wanted to connect with is active on Twitter. If tweeting is something you enjoy, feel free to connect.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Look for another installment of updates in a few days. – Ann

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

During the past 13 months I’ve accepted a number of assignments with Minnesota Public Radio News to photograph what’s become an ongoing labor dispute between American Crystal Sugar and 1,300 union workers. The company has five processing plants in the Red River Valley. The one-year anniversary of the lockout is today and my guess is no one is celebrating. Photographs from past demonstrations and the morning of the lockout were shared previously on my journal. More recently I photographed the exterior of the processing plant in Moorhead, Minn., and also briefly passed through Hillsboro, N.D., which is home to another plant. Some of those photographs are featured here, while others were created several months ago. A story by MPR reporter Dan Gunderson aired a few days ago and is available online here.

Thanks for looking, Ann

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Hillsboro North Dakota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Hillsboro North Dakota

American Crystal Sugar Labor Dispute Moorhead Minnesota

 

Bonnie's Hometown Grocery

Much of Minnesota’s Big Stone County – like many parts of the state – has been deemed a “rural food desert” by the United States Department of Agriculture. In fact, huge swaths of middle America and the people who live there have low access to healthy foods and the variety of food found at large grocery stores. Honestly, I’ve never given much thought to food distribution or availability in this part of the world. We’re surrounded by farms and fields.

For a recent assignment with Minnesota Public Radio News I spent the better part of an afternoon in Big Stone County. One of my tasks was to photograph at Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery. The small store, owned by Bonnie Carlson, is located in Clinton, Minn. The grocery is something of an oasis and provides more than just the basics. Mrs. Carlson, who doesn’t like to be photographed, was a gracious host and more than tolerated my presence. I also had the opportunity to briefly visit a small family farm outside Clinton [see bottom two photographs].

You can see more photographs and read [or listen] to the article here. It’s an interesting issue and one we might all want to consider. Thanks for looking. – Ann

Bonnie's Hometown Grocery

Bonnie's Hometown Grocery

Bonnie's Hometown Grocery

Bonnie's Hometown Grocery

Rural Big Stone County

Getting A Drink

Washing Up

My work as freelance photojournalist for Minnesota Public Radio News expanded in 2011. I completed 30-some assignments for the organization last year and was pleased to learn that nine of my photographs have been included in MPR News’ Pictures of the Year. Online photo galleries featuring photographs by both staff and freelance contributors are available here, here, here and here.

My selected images are presented in order of oldest to most recent below. Not surprising, two of the biggest news stories from the region [spring flooding and the American Crystal Sugar lock-out] are well represented. In this era of newsroom layoffs and shrinking freelance budgets, I remain grateful to the editors and reporters at MPR News for their respective roles in helping me document the people and places in the Red River Valley. Few things give me more pleasure or satisfaction.

Happy New Year. – Ann

Stepping Stones

Bear Cub

Flood from Above

Sandbag Line

Golden-Winged Warbler

Beekeeper

Lockout

A&R Bar in Hillsboro, N.D.

Homer's One-Stop Mini-Mart