This is our third conversation with an artist from our current group exhibit, The Art of Food. You may recognize Allen Beland’s striking photograph, Wrenched Berry, from when it was featured on the Library’s main page at the beginning of April.
How long have you been photographing / using digital manipulation?
I have been photographing (officially) since 1986 when I enrolled in my first photo class at Longwood College as a requirement for my degree in art. I began using digital imagery and manipulation early on in the nineties when the graphics firm in which I was employed was asked to do R&D; work for Kodak and the new digital technology.
How did you come to create the piece in the Art of Food?
I have been a real ally in the fight for the natural food cause and sincerely despise altered and processed foods a great deal. Couple this with the reading of “Omnivores Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, I thought about the whole mechanized world of processed food and what symbolic visual representation I could attach to the anit-modified food movement. This is when I came up with the idea for the wrench “working on food in labs” and the strawberry “one of the most modified foods.” I shot this using a macro lens and a copystand. I then manipulated the image via photoshop to appear much like a propaganda poster, without the type of course.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am busy teaching, in my 13th year, photography at Yorktown High School and trying to get some pieces together to send out some proposals for gallery shows and I still do several freelance jobs as well.
You can find more of Beland’s work, and that of his students, on his website: http://yhsphoto.lz0.org/
The old saying, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" doesn't hold true for Mr. Beland. He is an extraordinary photographer and an equally adept teacher. My daughter is in one of his photo classes at Yorktown and I am consistently awed by the depth of the assignments he gives them. His creativity is amazing!