Disfarmer Exhibit

The Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance in collaboration with Visit Hot Springs is sponsoring Disfarmer, a photography exhibit of the work of Mike Disfarmer in the main concourse of the Hot Springs Convention Center as a part of Arts & The Park. The film A Portrait of America, Disfarmer will screen November 5, at 11am in room 201. Both the exhibit and the film are free and the public is invited. 

The exhibit is made of 30 reproductions of the photos taken by Mike Disfarmer, a native of Heber Springs, AR, who was renown for his notable and profound use of light to capture the raw intensity of his subjects through studio portraiture. Disfarmer operated a studio in the small town of Heber Springs from 1917 until the1950s. His work has since received international recognition and come to define an approach for capturing character and personality.

Hava Guerevich of the Disfarmer Project said, “The legendary Mike Disfarmer is considered one of the great portraitists in the history of photography. As the resident studio photographer in Heber Springs, Arkansas, he captured the faces of the American heartland at a defining time in history in which the Great Depression yielded to World War II, and the sons of the farm donned their country’s uniform and headed off to foreign shores. He was also a true American eccentric: born Mike Meyer in 1884, he legally changed his name to Disfarmer to disassociate himself, not only from the farming community in which he plied his trade, but from his own kinfolk – claiming that a tornado had accidentally blown him onto the Meyer family farm as a baby.”

In addition to the Disfarmer exhibit, Arkansas portraitist Don House led a workshop for photographers of all levels covering the methods used by Disfarmer on Sunday, April 24. The workshop began with a group discussion and an analysis of samples of Disfarmer’s images and what makes them visually powerful.  House then demonstrated his own techniques and discussed lighting, film and digital cameras, backdrops, processing, and his philosophical approach to capturing images that are honest in every important meaning of that word. Participants put the information to use by taking portraits using their own cameras and available light. 

“This exhibition of Mike Disfarmer’s work and the Don House workshop was the perfect fit for the 2022 Arts & The Park theme Creative Roots. We are thankful to the Arkansas Department of Heritage and Arkansas Arts Council for their sponsorship of the festival which seeks to encourage artists to draw inspiration from their own individual ancestry or the cultural heritage of our state.” said Visit Hot Springs Cultural Affairs Manager, Mary Zunick. 

Click photo below to see images produced by the Don House workshop participants