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Our Latest Art of Storytelling Exhibit Launches With “Pictures from the Field”

Read an article in the East Bay Times about our latest exhibit here


Mimi Plumb standing in front of her photograph of women at a Cesar Chavez UFW rally

On October 19th, California Humanities’ Oakland office launched its fourth exhibit in The Art of Storytelling series called “Pictures from the Field, which showcases 18 photos taken by photographer and Bay Area native, Mimi Plumb. As a young college student, Plumb followed Cesar Chavez and members of United Farm Workers labor union (UFW) across the Salinas Valley 42 years ago with her 35 mm camera in hand capturing the unsung heroes of the farmworker movement. Even as outsider, Plumb managed to build a level of comfort and trust with the farmworkers and their families, which helped to create an intimate window into the lives of hundreds upon thousands of Californians.

Plumb met Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of the biography “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez”, Miriam Pawel, and began working together to identify and interview the people in Plumb’s series. In 2015, California Humanities was pleased to provide a grant to develop a web-based art and history exhibit called Democracy in the Fields that explores the stories of farmworkers who supported Cesar Chavez in his July 1975 march from the U.S. – Mexico border and through the Salinas Valley. Curated by Pawel, “Democracy in the Fields” is an attempt to preserve a piece of rapidly disappearing history carefully preserved in Plumb’s rare photographs and the stories she, Pawel, and a small team of historians unearthed through interviews and oral history. The website, which launched in spring 2016, is designed to expand as people identify friends and relatives in the photographs and add their own recollections of that summer.

The leaders and the activists of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Union movement weren’t groomed orators or politicians – they were regular people, with families and personal responsibilities, whose struggle to find opportunities to raise their voice and control their destinies became their new job in and around the field.

We were lucky to have both Mimi Plumb and Miriam Pawel speak at the “Pictures from the Field” opening reception about their independent work and study of Cesar Chavez and the UFW that culminated in the creation of “Democracy in the Fields”. The exhibit is located inside our Oakland office. If you would like to see Mimi Plumb’s photos, please contact nbalram@calhum.org to schedule a weekday appointment. In the meantime, please enjoy the video of their conversation.

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