Two adorable kunekune pigs grace the poster for the 2018 Common Ground Country Fair, which was unveiled last week by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. As is tradition, the poster was presented the association’s annual meeting at the State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta.
The artwork on the poster, created by Arika von Edler of San Francisco, was selected by the MOFGA board of directors and fair’s steering committee. It will advertise the 42nd annual Common Ground Country Fair, to be held Sept. 21-23, in Unity.
“We ended up having a wonderful selection this year,” said April Boucher, Common Ground Country Fair director. “We had 86 entries. There was just so much amazing art done by MOFGA members and Maine residents. It made it quite hard [to choose the winner] actually.”
This year’s winning artist, Edler is a MOFGA member who has quite a few Maine ties. She graduated in 2012 from the College of Atlantic in Bar Harbor, where she studied fine art and organic agriculture, and she’s worked on a number of farms across the state. Currently she lives in San Francisco, where she earned a master’s degree in fine arts from San Francisco Art Institute this past spring.
The artwork she created for this year’s fair poster was an illustration in acrylic paint on canvas paper, and she selected pigs to be the subject matter because, looking back at the fair’s poster history, it had been almost 20 years since a pig had graced a poster.
“I figured it was about time for some more pigs,” Edler said. “The pig variety is called kunekune, and they are on the brink of extinction as far as livestock goes. I chose heirloom pigs to highlight the importance of livestock diversity. It is just as important as seed saving and seed diversity. These particular pigs belong to a homesteader in Washington County, Maine who uses them to sustainably clear forest for more farmland. She never eats them, and I wanted to also highlight the many uses of heirloom livestock outside of meat consumption.”
Boucher explained that the MOFGA board of directors and fair’s steering committee looks for poster artwork that is engaging, celebrates an aspect of agriculture and also has a “teaching moment,” and Edler’s pig illustration fit the bill.
“They’re a grazing pig,” Boucher said of kunekunes. “They mostly stay on the top [of the soil]. You can put them in an orchard for orchard cleanup and they’ll eat the downed apples but not dig up the trees, and they’re keep the grass down … They’re also quite furry, so they’re very resilient. They’re going to take heat and cold, and they aren’t going got get sunburned like the very light-skinned, low-hair pigs.”
Organized by MOFGA, the fair is a celebration of rural living that draws approximately 60,000 attendees each year. With a full schedule of workshops and demonstrations and a giant campus of vendors, the fair is designed to educate people about a wide variety of topics, from goat milking and beekeeping to bicycling and tree identification.
Each year, MOFGA has an open submission process to collect possible designs for the fair poster. Designs can be submitted by any Maine resident or association member. Once the submissions are collected, the winning design is selected in August. However, it’s not until the annual meeting in January that the association reveals the winning artwork and final poster design.
“The whole reason I started doing the poster images was because I figured maybe if I created a great image for them then they would sell a lot of merchandise and raise a lot of money,” Edler said. “One of the easiest way to support the organic farming community in Maine is to support MOFGA, the other is to directly support your local farms by shopping there.”
At the fair, the poster artwork will be featured on merchandise, including T-shirts, travel totes, sweatshirts, aprons and reusable grocery bags.
Adler is the third artist to win the contest more than once. Her illustration of a goat was selected for the 2015 poster.
“I’m incredibly honored that MOFGA chose my work twice,” Edler said. “I had so much fun painting both of these posters, and it was amazing to be at the fair in 2015 to sign posters and meet all kinds of people who really connected with the image, which I didn’t expect. I even had multiple children come up to my table and give me drawings they had done of the goat image in crayon as gifts, which I thought was amazing. I was like ‘Holy cow! I have fan art!’ I was incredibly moved by all the people I met that year, and I hope that people get as much joy from the pigs.”
MOFGA is already accepting submissions for the 2019 fair poster, which will be selected by jury in August. The 2018 posters are currently available through MOFGA’s online store at www.mofgastore.org.
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