I call it “Unconscious Amish Art”. I don’t know if it’s calculated or not, but the Amish I see have an aesthetic that is apparent in almost everything they build, grow, or manufacture.
And although I call it “unconscious”, I doubt it is.
The colors on the clothesline are particularly beautiful, and they often frame buildings and landscapes.
I see art almost everywhere I look, but hardly ever see it assembled or set up. It happens while I am still sleeping.
What I’m starting to see is that Amish art isn’t articulate, nor spoken, but there is an aesthetic that as a photographer / artist I can clearly see. There is beauty in the simplicity, from rows of vegetables in laundry baskets on a line to the organization of a food shed.
I always remember when I visit that I am a stranger, maybe trusted but not one of them. They operate with a consciousness – and an aesthetic – that is beyond me.
There is art and beauty in a simple car, which they refuse to adorn in any way, and in simple clothes, in attractive colors.
There is simplicity is the well-organized fruit and carrots and tomatoes.
There is simplicity and beauty in healthy children without makeup, tattoos, rings or unhealthy skin.
I understand this as art, conscious or not, and they clearly have their own distinct aesthetic. Seeing them in their Sunday clothes going to church while they sing is a beautiful picture, especially its purity and simplicity. It’s like art to me.
When I first met the Millers, the shed was selling pies and sometimes donuts. Today when I saw the back door open and took this photo of the inside, I was struck not only by the cleanliness and the range of foods and fruits and vegetables (syrup maple, rugs and necklaces) but by the composition of the packaging and the rows. of colorful vegetables in baskets.
There were over twenty things for sale, all neatly and beautifully organized. Nothing seemed out of place and the products were in boxes that went down a line.
I rarely want to take a photo of the interior of stores, I always want to take a photo of the interior of Amish buildings, greenhouses, sheds and barns.
As a rule, I don’t take photos indoors or if I am close to people of any age. When I do, I ask for permission and show the results immediately. It’s a good system, it worked well for me and hopefully for them.
These things the Amish make and organize are asking to be photographed, and I am proud and happy to have earned the trust of Moses and Barbara and welcome to take a photo of this outdoor Amish art at any time, as long as I do not do it. t take close-ups of faces.
They are known for their strollers and clothes, but not for their art, which is natural, organic and, I believe, intuitive. And quite beautiful. They are well aware of lines, colors, shapes and perspectives.
I have never seen Amish art in “English” museums.
I’m not sure how and if they plan these artistic details, I know I could take 50 photos of the farm and each shot would show something sharp, ironic, or artistic. Everything looks like some kind of sculpture, nothing is put together.
The Amish, for all their honesty, have a lot of secrets, and they keep them to themselves and protect them. Their aesthetic is one of them.
There is a holistic quality to this art. And a lot of thought and design somewhere along the line.
People who don’t want to be photographed almost instinctively create beautiful landscapes and artistic landscapes. One always seems to be linked to the other.
They want to be seen, but not captured. They want to be a mystery but care about the image. This is their identity.
Shed showcases food in rich colors, pie boxes and donut boxes are mouth-watering, neatly lined up next to each other, eyes can roam the shed and it’s all there, visible and organized with size and the form in mine.
It never looks messy or poorly thought out, which makes it all the more appetizing.
Baskets are rarely empty, except at the end of the day when things are selling.
Each laundry plan seems to frame the new barn. The horse strollers are lined up, they look like a scene from a Willa Cather novel.
I buy something almost every time I’m there.
I love taking clothesline photos there, for ordinary people they are colorful and timeless. Nothing messy, dripping dirty or crumpled.
For people who live on a farm without a shower or running hot water, they are surprisingly well cared for. Farms are inherently messy and littered with debris, Amish farms are not.
The green rows of their crops look like magazine covers, they are so green and red and straight and precisely aligned. There is a strong sense of how things look and how things are.
There is no trash from an ordinary farm, no trash or trash or boxes lying around.
Part of that, I think, is that the Amish culture is intact. We the English did not invade them or steal their land, leaving them broken and in search of their identity.
They protected themselves from us and managed to stay out of our way most of the time for 500 years. This simplicity, this beauty is their own culture, not ours. I’m just starting to catch it.
While traveling, I saw Native American reservations which are often a brothel, but beautiful and immaculate pueblos. Their culture has been destroyed and we have not been able to incorporate them into our own.
This sense of anesthesia is the benefit of having reasons to come almost every day – to talk to Moses, deliver pans and boxes, bring ice cream or ice cubes. It wasn’t a conscious thing on my part either, but it touched the artist in me. You can’t see it if you come every now and then.
It is something that I did not expect, but which enchants me. It stimulates and inspires me as well, and it’s something I want to explore in my own work.
I’m in the company of creative colleagues when I visit the Millers, and maybe that’s part of what draws me to them.