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Georgic Odyssey: Agricultural Photo Exhibit Brings Art—and Issues—To The Table


Georgic – Of or relating to agriculture or rural life. The Latin poet Virgil wrote a series of poems called the Georgics (from the Greek georgos, "farmer") on how to manage a farm. Georgic poems, therefore, are concerned with rural business. Unlike pastoral works, which celebrate leisure, georgic works are about people involved in agricultural labor.
Odyssey – 1. An extended adventurous voyage or trip. 2. An intellectual or spiritual quest: an odyssey of discovery.

friendly looking sheep

"If 'you are what you eat,' then this is about who we are," says photographer (and farmer) Edwin Remsberg.
The University of Maryland will host “Georgic Odyssey: Where Your Food Comes From,” an exhibit of agricultural photographs by Edwin Remsberg, contract photographer with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The exhibit, which features 54 images, will run from September 20 to November 1 at the Student Union Art Gallery.

The purpose of the exhibit, according to Remsberg, is to offer a view of a world that exists side-by-side with most people’s lives, but which they rarely see or think about—"a behind-the-scenes tour of your dinner," he calls it.

Food is everyone’s preoccupation, and for some it’s also their occupation. However, there is a gulf between consumers and producers that is too often bridged only by commercial interests. This is neither a pre-school “Down on the Farm” lesson nor an activist-inspired “organic is the only right way” sermon. "I have always been fascinated by the landscape of American agriculture," says Remsberg, "the adaptation of resources, the changing demand of consumers, and the commitment of people who choose to work hard. If 'you are what you eat,' then this is about who we are."

Remsberg, himself a farmer, has been capturing agricultural images—first on film and now digitally—for 20 years. In 2002 he was asked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cooperative State Research Extension and Education Service (CSREES) to help them develop a library of photographs related to agriculture and the land-grant university system, of which the University of Maryland is part. What started as a three-month assignment has lasted more than four years.

Remsberg’s work with USDA has taken him to more than to 29 states and territories. He has photographed oysters in Maryland, blueberries in Maine, potatoes in Idaho, cattle in Montana, mushrooms in Alaska, pearls in Micronesia...and pretty much every commodity in between. He has survived a small plane crash and undergone purification in a Native American sweat lodge to get the shot.

“We are thrilled to be able to host this very special exhibit of Edwin’s work,” said Gallery Program Coordinator Jackie Milad in a prepared statement to the press. “It reveals his passion for his subject and gives all of us a better appreciation of where our food comes from.”

An opening reception for the artist will be held at The Union Gallery on September 20 from 5-7PM. The gallery is located at 1220 Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland at College Park. For more information, call 301-314-8493 or email

An online tour is available at

In conjunction with the exhibit, panel discussions with food and agricultural experts will be held in the Gallery from 1-2 p.m. on the following dates: 10/2: Organic, natural or modified—making sense of food labels and what they really mean; 10/9: Agriculture and the environment, protecting the earth and feeding its people; 10/16: Is your food safe? Food Safety and security in the 21st century; 10/23: Animal Welfare in agriculture; 10/30: The food factory—Manufactured foods, processed foods, and foods of the future.

The exhibit is made possible by the support of the USDA/CSREES, the University of Maryland College Of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Maryland Agriculture Council. The gallery is open Mon.–Thurs. 10am-8pm and Fri.-Sat. 11am-4pm. Closed Sunday.

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This story was published on September 18, 2007.